When it comes to getting noticed by fashion stylists, emerging designers are up against brands with big budgets and name recognition. It’s daunting. How do you even get the attention of these inundated stylists? How do you get them interested in what you are designing?
Working with a variety of diverse fashion stylists over the years has helped to create a library of useful tips and noticeable patterns for getting a stylist to notice one designer over another.
Here are 8 of these tips…
Learn How to Target
Accept that you won’t get noticed by everyone. If you are an androgynous experimental line, you probably won’t get the attention of a stylist who always does girly society. See which stylists tend to match your style both in their personal look and their work. Focus your energy on them.
Get into the Habit of Socializing
Go to as many fashion events as you can. This seems obvious, and you have a plenty of other things you need to be doing, but try to go to at least two events a week. Introduce yourself and say you are a new designer. Don’t over promote or sell when you meet them, just a friendly intro will do and over time they will remember you. Then be sure to follow up on social media; a comment on an Instagram pic or a tweet is always appreciated and memorable.
Buddy Up with the Assistants
Befriend the assistant. For the more well-known stylists, usually the only way to gain access is through the assistant. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try this route for the lesser known stylists, as well. Befriending the assistants is a great way to build a genuine community and support system.
Avoid Fashion Week
By this I mean don’t spend a lot of money and time on a show. Unless you get accepted into an emerging designer group show, don’t try to have an off site event or show too early in the development of your label.
This isn’t always the most popular opinion, and there is a certainly a time for a show or presentation if you want one. But if you are dumping too much time and money (i.e. you can’t afford to hire show organizers and PR), it’s not the best idea.
Fashion week is completely saturated with shows so it’s very hard to get exhausted stylists and editors to the smaller shows. Many overlap as well. Also it’s hard for editors and stylists to remember what they saw by the end of the week. And while editors attend, stylists often don’t attend shows because they are styling shows.
Consider Having a Show
While the above point about avoiding fashion week is true, it can work to have an event during a less busy and in-demand week. Consider pairing up- find other emerging designers and do a group event or presentation. That divides up cost, time, contacts, and manpower.
Ask for Advice and Feedback
People like to help and offer advice. Send a humble and personal email to the stylist or assistant requesting advice. Make it as personal as possible. Mention something you admire about them. Don’t be fake about that. Find something you do really admire – was there a shoot they did that really spoke to you or do they have an interesting personal story?
Include a link to your lookbook and say you would love any advice they can offer an emerging designer on how you can improve your collection.
Book Photo Shoots
Find the assistants to the photographers that work with stylists you like. Reach out to see if they would shoot your lookbook. Some might be excited to do this just to build their portfolio, but most likely if it is an assistant to a bigger photographer it is worth paying the daily rate. You’ll get beautiful photos for your lookbook but also you get a great entree to stylists.
Remember Those Stylist Assistants…
Now that you’ve befriended them, keep in mind that stylist assistants are always looking to build their book and borrowing samples for test shoots is not always that easy. Offer your clothes for test shoots to the assistant. And as above with photo assistants, see if you can hire one to style your lookbook. In general most stylist assistants do creative test and spec shoots unpaid but will not want to do a lookbook unpaid. It is worth it to pay them to begin to develop a relationship.
The group of stylist assistants and photo assistants are a pretty strong community. Get in with 1 or 2 and you start building a name among them. And again, stylists depend on the eyes of their assistants more than you realize.
My name is Liz Entin and I am the founder of Runway Passport, which specializes in selling emerging fashion designers by city from around the world. My background is in assisting fashion stylists and styling on my own for smaller magazines. While my special passion was always emerging, I think we all unfortunately know that many stylists and magazines go for the big names. However, from assisting I noticed some tips that helped the emerging draw the attention of the stylists.
Lookbooks and style sheets are so important. However, they can be expensive, especially in New York. While searching I found a printing company in the Fort Lauderdale area that does them called Marcom Services. http://www.marcomsvs.com. They were good because you don’t have to print a lot. I printed only 25 lookbooks with 60 pages. Their quality was as good as it gets and the cost was so much better than the companies in the NY area.