New designers often ask how they can build their brand with minimal investment of both time and money. While this is a tall order, trunk shows can be a viable way for new and established designers to maintain/establish a following, boost sales and entice retail buyers.
To make trunk show planning as painless as possible, here are a few tips:
- Underestimating the importance of the venue is a big mistake. Whether a boutique, department store or other, the venue’s image and prestige should match that of your brand’s. Aside from image, it is important to select a location that has the necessary requirements and accommodations for the show. These may include particular lighting, easily accessible physical location and inside floor layout. Beverly Solomon, former sales and marketing specialist for Diane von Furstenberg, recommends that department store shows be situated near busy aisles, so as to gain the attention of passers-by. Similarly, she advises that boutique shows be viewable from windows so that foot traffic may turn into sales.
- An often overlooked aspect of planning a trunk show is the agreement with the vendor. Be sure to stipulate terms before hosting your show to prevent confusion later. Typically, contracts can spell out how lost or damaged merchandise will be handled, the percentage of sales—if any—the venue will receive, the specific roles of each party or length of show.
- The “who’s who” of the local industry should be at the top of the guest list for your trunk show. Because influencers and tastemakers have reach that extends beyond themselves, you might find it beneficial to reach. On the “industry influencers” list, don’t forget to include buyers of local boutiques and stores. Additionally, it is critical to identify a list of existing and prospective clients as guests. Invitations should go out approximately four to six weeks prior to the actual trunk show.
- It is customary to host a show shortly before a new season to introduce the coming season’s line. With this in mind, plan your show accordingly, ensuring that the theme matches the upcoming season. For instance, if your show is held in April or May, be prepared to showcase your summer designs; if it is held in July or August, be prepared to introduce those autumn-friendly fashions. Make sure that the theme is evident throughout every aspect of your show, from the designs to the invitations to the venue atmosphere.
- If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to witness it, does it make a sound? The same can be asked about a trunk show with no promotion or publicity. And even better, a trunk show is the perfect excuse for you to promote your brand to the news media.
If the thought of planning a trunk shows makes you nervous, contract a publicist or event planner who is experienced in planning shows. Don’t pass up this unique opportunity to showcase your designs.