At any given time I can be found drooling over J Crew’s newest catalogue, browsing fashion blogs or re-watching Sex and the City episodes just to see the clothes one more time. I know that I love fashion, so now I am looking for where fashion and PR meet.
I started my research at PR Couture and found a post that reminded me of the woman that turned me onto PR in the first place. If you have seen MTV’s drama-filled reality show “The Hills,” you know Kelly Cutrone as the powerful, intimidating and brilliant woman in black. If you have not seen the show you may know her as the fashion publicist that founded the company People’s Revolution. Her company is a full service public relations, branding and marketing firm located in Los Angeles and New York, with an international office in Paris. Kelly and her team represent monumental brands including Vivienne Westwood, Longchamp, Valentino and Bulgari. In the fashion world, the brands on People’s Revolutions client list are iconic. So what does the PR team do to promote collections that could bring any fashionista to tears? They put the brands on the forefront of fashion. Among other things, fashion publicists book prime time slots at fashion week, make sure the first impressions are spot on and ensure the brand’s image reflects the company as a whole.
From what I can tell, success in fashion is dependent on PR. There are simply too many talented fashion designers in this world to be successful without a concrete PR plan. Exposure is the essence of this industry, and every designer strives to have the press praising his or her collection. For designers to have their couture dress modeled on the red carpet at the Oscars, they need a stylist who works closely with celebrities. To gain access to those coveted stylists, designers need PR firms with connections. Case and point: Rachel Zoe. Zoe is the celebrity stylist turned fashion icon who styled Anne Hathaway in an Atelier Versace gown for the 2011 Oscars. Although Versace is already an established fashion house, each prime time appearance acts as a walking billboard for the brand and helps solidify its spot in fashion’s elite.
Public relations acts as the web that connects all aspects of the fashion industry. The designers create the collections, manufacturers brings ideas to life, models allow us to ogle at the wearable art, stylists create the looks and PR practitioners make sure we never forget.
Now that you’re maxed out on glitz and glam, let’s talk about what I think this all really means:
1. Fashion PR is not your typical nine to five job. The fashion industry is cranking out looks in Paris while we are climbing into our beds in San Francisco. Fashion PR firms count on their employees to be ready to work whenever the clients need them. This could mean dealing with the press, finalizing the lights and music for a show, contacting stylists, doing research, creating a PR plan and remembering countless minute details to ensure a job well done… Even if this means working into the wee hours of the morning.
2. I have to be independent and resourceful. If I plan on working in a fast-paced industry such as fashion PR, I will need to be prepared to get my projects done to my boss’s standards, without having to ask questions every step of the way.
3. I need to be comfortable using all social media platforms. Social media is becoming increasingly more important in PR. With the click of a button, a PR practitioner can send a message to thousands of subscribers. Before the social media push, it was much more difficult to create two-way communication. But now the fashion industry has caught on and designers are using these tools to promote their work and relate to their customers.
4. Fashion is competitive. If this industry wasn’t constantly evolving and introducing new designers and products, there would be no use for public relations. Because there are always competitors waiting in the wings, there is a need for PR practitioners to know what’s going on in the industry. Every designer generally has the same goal: to create beautifully wearable pieces that consumers will buy. Once the designer has reached his or her goal, the PR team has to compel the public to crave its client’s designs more than those of the competitor.
5. Fashion is ever changing. While a Chanel suit will always be timeless, other trends go in and out of style with the blink of an eye. Fashion PR firms are always anticipating the next shift in the industry and are pitching strategies to build their client’s customer base and image. If I want to be successful, I think I’d better make sure I’m evolving alongside the industry.
With some research under my belt, I know more about fashion PR and am thoroughly impressed by how much of an impact public relations has on the industry that I love. By no means is this an easy career path, but over the next year I’ll be sure to stay current and prepare myself to hopefully find a job where I can mix fashion and PR.
“You can fake your way to the table, but ultimately you have to learn how to eat.”
- Kelly Cutrone, “If You Have to Cry, Go Outside”