#871 The great PR debate

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. We’ve got about four or five major PR agencies/showrooms here in New Zealand (Auckland specifically). As far as I can tell, they’re all very good at their jobs. So good, in fact, that you can’t pick up a magazine or a newspaper without seeing one of their clients in print. But does all this press correspond to increased stockists and sales for the labels? Most of the young designers I know are dirt poor, yet they’re constantly being interviewed by the media, their collections forever being lauded. It’s an odd phenomenon. In other much written about industries like acting, a lot of press would generally come as a result of a lot of work. You don’t often see out of work actors on the front pages of weekend pullouts.

So I guess the questions I want to ask are:

Is this a situation where the publicists are actually too good at their jobs and don’t have the clients to back it up?
Or
Is it a case of lazy media/stylists always being spoon-fed stories and clothing from very good PR agents?
Or
Is it a case where the public likes reading about New Zealand designers but when it comes time to go shopping they still choose international imports?
Or
Are the designers’ clothes too expensive for what they’re selling in comparison to international (probably made in China) labels?
Or
Are the fashion media only writing about who they want to write about regardless of the tastes of the general public?
And, finally,
Does the New Zealand fashion media have the power to sell clothes to the public?

This is a theoretical debate, so I don’t want a whole bunch of “X label shouldn’t be getting any press at all, they suck,” or “This fashion journalist is a sellout.”

Comment below.

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Comments

  1. gen says

    The more avant-garde designers that might get a reasonable degree of coverage in the fashion media probably only appeal to a very tiny, not particularly cashed up market. Also I often find these younger designers have great ideas but sometimes the execution (i.e. the actual design or finish of the garment) is lacking.

    I don’t think you can blame the fashion media for covering what’s out there, or the PRs for getting their product covered. However, sometimes young designers run before they can walk – sometimes I’ll notice new name come out with some cute stuff, but with prices more akin to a KS or a KW. In my opinion, if you haven’t earnt those stripes yet, you need to price your stuff accordingly.

    I feel for young, struggling designers who have great ideas but are stony broke, when a so-called designer like Trelise Cooper churns out the hideous stuff every year and is bought up large by hordes of Remmers schmummies.

  2. says

    Hi Gen, all good points.

    I want to make it clear that I’m not hating on the media, PR agents or designers, I just think it’s an interesting debate. In some cases PR agents will have had hugely positive affects on sales, and others, none at all.

    I definitely agree with you about young designers pricing their garments so highly, but that’s the reality of manufacturing in New Zealand. It costs a lot to produce clothes here.

    Also true about great ideas but poor execution. Who wants to spend a lot of money on a piece that might not have been designed or created on a par with other more established designer’s garments that you can trust.

  3. says

    There is a certain pack/club mentality about things. I noticed this particularly reading an NZ magazine the other day noticing how all the people knew/were connected to each other in some way regardless of there individual merits. The focus seemed as much about that persons “vibe” or “image, than what they could offer. Which got me thinking, perhaps the designer/model has become the product, before the clothes. Not sure if this quite fits, just a thought.

  4. says

    fascinating questions Isaac.

    Neville Findlay from Zambesi said that he felt sorry for the young designers because the media actually represent a lot of pressure on time and energy for designers. He said that when Zambesi started they were able to just get on with things.

    Good questions to ask – I think you are right that we do have an unusually talented fashion PR industry – and a very receptive media.
    I would say that fashion and music are treated in similar ways – -they get a lot of coverage – but how much of this translates to sales?
    To look at the music industry – that fills the papers and news all the time yet has had declining sales for years it doesn’t look good.

    In terms of whether this generates sales – I also wonder about the approach of some marketing. I have always wondered how a photo spread of a 14 year old model helps sell a 800 buck dress. Surely the only women with the money to buy a dress like that have their shit sorted enough that they don’t want to emulate a kid still struggling with puberty? Anyway – this isn’t really relevant – but I do wonder whether older successful woman feel left out and detached from some of the coverage of the clothes that they actually buy.

  5. says

    I think young kiwis in particularly are very supportive of local designers but… we are pooooooooor Isaac! You yourself I’m sure know that very few people in the local fashion industry – whether they be designers/models/pr/shop assistants – are actually making money. The only reason we are dressed at all is because we get shit for wholesale or, commonly, are being paid in clothing.
    Of course, designers don’t make money directly by giving clothing to shopgirls/various associates at wholesale but the flip side is that by doing this they are increasing the street visibility of their product. If young, “hip” people wear the clothes regularly then, hopefully, the markets that actually have money (i.e older women and their teenage daughters) will see it, like it and buy it at retail.
    From my own experience in retail I cannot tell you how often people would purchase items because they saw someone at work/on the street, or even the shop assistant themselves, wearing it.
    I personally think the way forward for PR isn’t through fashion media but instead making the product more visible at street level. If I were a designer I would totally be giving free/cheap clothing each season to those I considered to be the style leaders or influencers amongst my target demographic. Too many people underestimate the power of sociology in purchase behaviour!!

  6. says

    Very true Katie – I think a lot of fashion media/industry folk must give off the appearance of being quite wealthy because of their assortments of nice things, but if anybody really knew just how poor we really are they’d probably laugh in our faces.

    I like your idea of giving clothing to influential people.

    But I do think there must still be publications with big reach that influence the general buying public… right?

  7. says

    Oh for sure Isaac; I think Katie Newton and the SST fashion pages for one are super important. Katie explains the trends evenly , gives her opinion and offers advice on how to wear them. The clothing is displayed clearly – with not a polarizing young model in sight. Plus, consideration is given to varying age/income brackets.
    Most importantly though, it reaches a wide, wide audience.

  8. Gen says

    Local designers already do have local “brand ambassadors” don’t they? I wonder whether younger more inventive designers will struggle now Topshop ships to NZ as well and you can get up to the minute “fad” fashion from there (especially as the exchange rate is so favourable right now).

    As for local publications that influence purchasing , personally speaking, the weekend newspaper magazines are the only local publications that have influenced my shopping lately. Russh, No, Frankie, I’ve flicked through and while the styling is great they’re not really directed at a late 20s professional are they? (I have to wear tops to work) … so I guess poundito’s point is bang on.

  9. says

    Great points poundito! I was almost going to mention before re: gens Trelise Cooper comment, that Trelise has secured her throne as almost the only “household name” nz designer that targets the “older successful women”. A friend of mines mum was a big fan and boy did Trelise know how to schmooze with discounts, vip evenings etc.

  10. Anonymous says

    another point is that almost NO fashion labels/designers in New Zealand pay for advertising space in papers and magazines. so they get a fuckload of free publicity on a constant basis without having to give any mutual support to local media many of which are independent and probably struglling quite a bit right now also…

  11. Anonymous says

    okay so say you could get a topshop jacket – total high street rip-off made with shit cheap materials and cheaply, badly produced – or you could get something made in NZ for the same price, better quality, support the locals – why are people so excited they can get Top shop? it’s like supre with a huge mark-up and a bit more editing right? And along these same lines, let me just check – its okay for topshop to blatantly rip other designers off and still cool to buy it, but if a local label shows merely a sniff of influence from another source they get torn to shreds??????

  12. says

    Hey Isaac,

    This is a really good post with great questions being asked – things that I’ve wondered myself.

    Something else to think about:
    It’s interesting that one of the most influential publications – Simply You – is also the most commercial. It’s aimed at an older demographic who have the money to spend. Love it or hate it, whatever you think of the covers or inside shoots – it generates sales. The women that buy that magazine use it as a guide, therefore those who advertise in it get great results. BUT – this doesn’t really have much to do with PR does it?

    Sunday is great – Katie does an awesome job.

    Next magazine could be good if it were more like Madison or Marie Claire.

    The problem with NZ is population size. If you consider that the ‘cool’ or on trend or whatever people are say only 5% of a population then that leaves a very small portion of people who want/can buy designer clothing. We’re also not that well off as a nation either.

  13. Gen says

    (a) Topshop is decent quality, it’s certainly not poorly produced – though it’s certainly made by cheap labour. And it’s far superior in quality and design to local chain stores.
    (b) I can’t believe this point even needs explaining to you Anonymous. A designer is meant to DESIGN things, i.e. create trends. A chain store takes trends and bangs them on the shelves for cheap. Designers can charge a premium because they are meant to create those trends.

    I don’t think people crucify local designers for showing a “sniff of influence” from overseas. But the designers who are constantly respected are the ones who lead rather than follow.

  14. says

    I agree – the fashion industry here do a poor job of supporting the media industry – only a few advertise (Workshop, Helen Cherry come to mind) and they support independant titles which is great. (Does KW pay for her ads?).
    It’s a shame. And as much as I baulk at SY (it’s not my style…) they are so staunch about using people who spend the money with them… that you kind of have to take your hat off to them.
    Another point – Trelise and Paula Ryan – household names that women over a certain age supposedly aspire to (remember all the Trelise clones at her shows with their permed hair)… they are PERSONALITIES. I guess they are brands… and perhaps that’s what sells????

  15. Anonymous says

    Gen your point B is about the most ridiculous statment I’ve read so far. The definition of DESIGN is NOT “to create trends” its to conceive and produce something. Doesn’t have to be creating a trend. Imagine how hard it would be if everyone who designed something had to strive to create a trend!! LOL

  16. says

    Some great comments going on here! And I appreciate everybody for not bringing the tone down.

    anon @ 1:47 – I think Gen has a good point that designers are supposed to ‘design’ rather than copy. Whether designing a particular piece sparks a trend is irrelevant but the fact that it’s an original thought is most important, I think.

    Also, regarding local designers not supporting local media, it costs a lot to advertise in a magazine – several thousand dollars per page – and I would assume that plenty of NZ designers don’t have that sort of cash lying around that they can just spend willy nilly on an ad when they don’t know the returns it will bring them.

    Perhaps the money would be better spent on PR…?

  17. says

    Could it be that it is a question of quality vs. quantity?

    Our culture is very varied in the way we spend money. NZer’s are humble (hence tall poppy syndrome)& often don’t want to spend alot of money on clothing, & perhaps also do not have the confidence to wear a ‘label’.

    Although many believe in the cost per wear mantra (as of a result of saving hard &/or layby-ing),many people simply can’t afford to spend over a certain amount for one item of clothing.

    With print media, could it be that many magazines only seem to use established designers & when they do use those lesser known, it’s difficult to find retailers. Who wants to phone for stockists?

    Also in some shoots it can be difficult to see the clothing due to the way the clothing is styled. One will go to a stockist & see the clothing, which is occasionally very different in reality to the way it is portrayed.

    Often the best advertisement are the retail staff, people on the street, etc. & the way they put the whole look together. In that way, the more you see the item of clothing in a particular way, the more you will want it. Maybe that is why lesser known designers are still poor. They need time for people to discover them & disolve it into their own look…

  18. says

    Back to the personality thing. As Tamsin pointed out, it works both ways. I think an image of someon rather than your clothes the product can work both ways. Trelise Cooper shows her demographic an image saying “look, i’m your age, i’m your shape, you can where this”. I have to wonder how many pre pubescent size 0 waifs read a trendy magazine, think “hey I relate!” then gets out his/her amex platinum. These sort of images sell a magazine though, but the product takes second place. Sorry for kind of repeating myself a bit…

  19. says

    I reakon the future for all marketing and public relations is through the avenues of social media.

    Instead of fashion designers marketing to a mass population, marketers market to individuals (through brand experience, quality of product, awesomeness of product) and then these individuals indirectly market to there friends, and so on and so forth.

    Most people are more likely to trust a recommendation(or style) of a friend, then of advertising or other outlets.

  20. Anonymous says

    Publicity does not equal financial success in NZ or anywhere else for that matter. It never has and it never will.

    It’s easy to get free publicity here in NZ because pretty much fuck all exciting ever happens. So someone starts making some clothes and no matter how poorly executed the designs are, and there are some shockers out there, and no matter how “same old” the designs are, the press are all over it simply because they’re bored to tears.

  21. says

    I’ve noticed in the past couple of years the increase in local labels featured in both local and international publications – an increase that has run parallel with the success and ammount of PR we have.

    While local labels are expensive (and that is understandable, given production costs etc) I know I personally make an effort to invest in pieces from my favorite local designers – and I know alot of other people my age (early 20s and late teens) who do the same. granted we are all studying/working in fashion so we have an interest in it.

    The public in general do seem to be getting more of an interest in fashion – particularly local – and i think this can be attributed to the exposure of both local and international fashion in more accessible publications (like sunday, viva etc).

    I think the media certainly has a power to sell the clothes, albeit to their readership. If you dont know about a label or a trend you arent going to buy it. it’s exposure, which is down to talented pr. but the clothes/accessories have to have the strength in design/construction/concepts to be desirable.

    hope that all made sense somewhat! brain hurts now.

  22. Anonymous says

    Yes high pricing is the killer. If they were to come down a bit, then I know I would buy a whole lot more! Some of the clothes are right on the money and I love them, but they cost soooooo much….. for what they are??????

  23. Anonymous says

    “… it costs a lot to advertise in a magazine – several thousand dollars per page – and I would assume that plenty of NZ designers don’t have that sort of cash lying around that they can just spend willy nilly on an ad when they don’t know the returns it will bring them.

    Perhaps the money would be better spent on PR…?”

    it also costs thousands of dollars a month to employ a pr agent.

    considering most magazines support their advertisers with stories, editorial placements etc, spending $$ on ads in preferred magazines seems as good a bet to get coverage as a pr agent, maybe better.

  24. says

    Great discussion – many rad points.

    I’m of the “media taking the spoon fed stories from very good PR agents” opinion.

    Does fashion JOURNALISM exist in New Zealand (outside of the internet) ? Are “stories” regurgetated press releases with no real depth…?

  25. says

    ANNND….If indepth analysis of fashion occured on our own shores
    we might become ENGAGED with fashion, design and creative thinking (and the discussion that goes with it) and will become PART of our designers success.

    Rather than just those who read about it…

  26. Anonymous says

    I am 33 and have a very good friend who is 19, we consume fashion in very differing ways.

    The most important factor for her is the clothing must be visually available on the internet, and 99% of the time this must be via the designer or clothing stores website, if its not on line, it does not exist!!!

    Without a web site showing incoming ranges and having up to date information, she (and her friends) loose interest fast.

    Websites, facebook & email updates area a great tool for designers to get directly in touch with there customers, without paying for a PR agent.

    I also believe that the now defunct runway reporter was a great (easy to access) tool for NZ fashion and as a Kiwi living off shore I have found NZ fashion coverage from the recent shows hard to find.

  27. Anonymous says

    I think it just shows how incredibly incestuous the fashion industry and associated media are in NZ. You for instance Isaac are very careful to not say a bad word about the designers,or associated industries – modelling agencies, pr, showrooms etc. There is no critical thought around fashion in NZ. I don’t thinkt he pr agencies are that great – put them in a bigger place and they would flail. We just have some lazy media that they can pander to and make it easy for them.

  28. Anonymous says

    Just wanted to throw some points in to the discussion:

    1. Design is not always about being “original”, and the term “designer” is broad. Designers re-intepret, rehash, recycle, modify, change, copy ideas and rarely is anything “original” actually “original” but derived/inspired from something else. Its all still valid. What you consider “design” and “original” is subjective. There are designers that have truly changed fashion (which was so much easier to do last couple of centuries) but there are also designers that have made a successful career out of raiding old archives and presenting something old in a new way–like Decarnin, Ford, etc. both are not necessarily great designers but great stylists and marketeers, that also takes talent, not necessarily “design” but “creative direction” nonetheless. Then in to that comes the power of $$$ and marketing, we are all suckers for marketing and it shapes our views and perception… we will believe/ buy in to anything, Top Shop, LV, American Apparel and H&M are a great examples of the power of marketing.

    2. EVERYONE in New Zealand thinks they can do fashion PR, but only in New Zealand. I’ve done it both here and overseas, and a lot of the (lazy) showrooms here would be eaten alive in NY and London. The showrooms here are lazy–magazines NEED something to shoot, so they don’t really have to do much to get the editorial especially if they’re providing a one-stop shop for stylists, a majority who again are also LAZY and use the same labels OVER and OVER and OVER again. Very predictable, very clicky and I won’t name names. ie. how many times does the SAME Kate Sylvester dress appear in the latest Remix?! And don’t get me started on the SAME model appearing in 3 different shoots in the SAME magazine, are there really that few models available to shoot???

  29. Anonymous says

    3. Magazines too, VERY lazy, and feature the same clicky labels OVER and OVER and OVER again. How many times can you write about Karen Walker or SGF or Huffer. And there are so many mags that its not hard for the PR agencies to get the editorial. International magazines that people respond and look up to like Dazed, i-D, AnotherMan are cutting edge, and lead the pack with new designers, new ideas etc. and you don’t have to be “mates” with the magazines to get a look in. The magazines here have the same old s**t. Give us something NEW and exciting. We know what KW does, we know what she looks like… yawn.

    4. Advertising is expensive considering what the magazines are offering, and most of the magazines are clicky and offer their fashion/hairdressing etc. “mates” free ads for big qudos, and only ever approach new advertisers if they want to meet an ad quota last minute instead of trying to build a relationship with potential new advertisers like they do overseas. And we have more mags per head than any other country–everyone wants to start their own mag. People that do ad sales are lazy too, and advertising in magazines offer VERY little returns in terms of sales from experience. They offer very little exposure as opposed to a billboard, or bus stop, street poster etc. but with no advertising budget, mags are a viable option. Maybe TradeNZ should spend more money helping new young brands export than continue to throw money at NomD, Zambesi, KW etc.

    In general I think we have some really LAZY media etc. not all, just mostly. And they all tend to be very exclusive, stick to the safe designers and brands, or their mates like Black, NO, FQ, Pulp, Pilot. God-forbid they should take a chance and feature an unknown or talented new brand/ designer/ photographer/ stylist. And showrooms, have heard from many people that they’re all lazy and barely do any work, and if they do get some PR in the mags, they want a free copy instead of going out and spending 10 bucks to buy a copy to support the mag.

    And there was an interesting comment about you Isaac, you my friend offer a very subjective and incestuous point of view on this blog, treading carefully with the people that you want to keep in good favor. That’s not journalism my friend and everything is like a puff piece, with your blog showcasing a who’s who of who you’re “apparently” mates or hanging out with. And you’re prime example of the lazy media–reporting on what your mates are up to and what they’re doing… yawn. God forbid that you should man up and step outside the box and talk about something else other than the people you’re clicky with.

  30. Anonymous says

    Yeah Anon 10:56 I totally agree… No one seems to be brave enough to voice a proper opinion within NZ on NZ Fashion (or the industry).

    And I tell you what its BORING!!!!

    Is everyone totally sleeping in the same bed???

    Say it like you see it Isaac, voice up brother.

  31. says

    Hey Isaac et. Al,

    I think that there have been alot of salient points raised with this blog, however isn’t the goal of any good fashion editor/stylist is to forecast and show new and exciting pieces?

    I mean if you openned a magazine or looked at any photoshoot and you saw stuff that you have already seen then what is the point of reading? For me a great shoot/fashion article should be telling me about things that I don’t know about. Sometimes this does not translate into commercial pieces being used and that is not due to the fashion label/PR agent, it is the inability of the stylist to meet the expectation of there readers.

    Isacc, fashion is alot more fickle than acting and does not have the bucks to backing it. The reason that an actor will get more press when as they more successful is because there is a huge PR machine, their latest blockbuster, generating there press. In fashion you are rarely that blessed. The ability to creat something “revolutionary” is sometimes the only way to get media attention.

    For this reason it is very much a case of designers being able to walk before they can run, as Gen writes. Emerging designers need to be able to create pieces that whet the appetite but also are able to balance our other expectations so that we don’t just buy one garment but return for many more.

    Also I just want to ad that fashion, like most other creative pursuits is rarely lucrative, well before you become a global juggarnaut anyway. This means that it is rare that you will have massive advertising budgets. You need to leverage what you can and exploit every opportunity that presents itself.

    Bravo to those PR agencies that are able to successfully do that for there clients!

  32. Gen says

    I agree with that point, Anon. I’m not taking a dig at Isaac, it’s the nature of a small close knit industry. Case in point the howls of disapproval when I and a few others were less than impressed with that commoners range.

    I don’t actually blame Isaac for not getting stuck in, he’s not an investigative reporter & why would he bites the hand that feeds him?

    NZ does not have a huge amount of good designers catering to older (i.e. late 20s/early 30s – not the Trelise target market) women with money to spend and a need to have clothes that can do work and play. There’s Kate Sylvester – her clothes are well made, interesting and wearable. Karen is usually good for suiting & frocks, although I haven’t been mad on the recent stuff. Helen Cherry consistently does cute wearable stuff, but it seems to be exactly the same design in different fabrics every season. Boring, I know, and I’d love to support younger designers, but at the moment what I’m seeing doesn’t justify purchasing (for my situation).

  33. Anonymous says

    anon at 2:10 – do you even read any of those magazines? Cos I read all of them and with the exception of FQ they are all FULL of new brands,designers, photographers and stylists. They also cover and nurture the talent that is already here. All of our magazines strongly promote all the talent both emerging and established and from what i know of it none of them are spoonfed anything from PR. So there.

  34. Katherine says

    I do agree with most of the points made, most of all the NZ fashion scene is BORING. I want to see something exciting, to get excited about something, to really want to support the designers as they’re doing something that deserves respect. If they can make it, I’ll tell my friends how much I want it/how awesome the designer is/we should have a look/oh you should try that on/oh I bought it.

    PS. Step up Isaac!!

  35. Anonymous says

    Anon 2.10. Yes – totally agree. I am kind of in the industry so I do have some insight into the process. I have my own ‘voice’ so am anon here, but trust me – I do say what i think elsewhere.

  36. Anonymous says

    I dont know Isaac personally but I totally disagree with the lazy media-reporting call. Keeping in mind this is HIS BLOG and he can write about his friends and peers and his own experiences of being in the industry to his hearts content (if you dont like, dont read it?), I’m often pleasantly surprised at the places Isaac gets to, gets pics of, the info he has etc. I know a lot of journalists that would rather just wait for PRs to help them every step rather than picking up the phone or getting off their arses. I actually think hes a fantastic journalist, when he has that hat on. guys got balls and i’d say he’ll go a long way.

    Second point is that not everyone in the world strives to be truly original and cutting edge all the time. you may find the average new zealander, even fashion lovers like myself, quite like designers who reinterpret current trends and reading magazines that arent TRYING to be cutting edge, they are presenting to a totally different more mainstream-skewed audience, so to diss them for not leading the pack is just ignorant and not relevant.

    anon @ 2:10AM, did you stay up that late writing up your points?!?!

  37. Melinda says

    @ Anon 2.10am

    Actually, it’s not that we have more magazines per capita here than elsewhere, it’s that New Zealanders BUY more magazines per capita here. So magazine advertising is not a silly medium.

    It seems like you have a bad word to say about everyone, including Isaac, who you blast for not being more critical. And yet you don’t put a name to your post… ironic, much?

    Is it because you work in the industry? Because I do, and rather than the ‘lazy’ and ‘clicky’ people you seem to see everywhere, I see a LOT of really hard-working people who are doing a lot of work for love in an industry that can be very tough. And many of them ARE producing good work. Some stuff is indifferent, sure. I prefer to focus on what I think IS good.

    That’s not being a suck-up… I genuinely do think there is a vast amount of interesting and good creative work being done out there, which is why I’m part of trying to promote and celebrate it (through the magazine/s I work with).

    And if you think you can produce something better than what’s out there now, by all means please do! Strong competition improves the industry. Anonymous, broad-strokes criticism, not so much.

  38. Anonymous says

    this is a very interesting debate. i might just add a few words of my own. i am a fashion student at aut, eventually hoping to be a designer. but for a few years now i have known that i would in no way attempt to start my own label soon out of uni in new zealand. in fact i wouldnt even stay in the country, why-because the market i want to design within i could hardly live off the money i would make here.
    there is something about staying in the new zealand industry that holds no appeal to me, im not too sure what it is, but i have an idea its to do with the incredible effort to be understood as a young designer with hardly any reward. the general new zealand public just wouldnt get where i was coming from so my market would be too tiny. i just dont see a general understanding of what design is truly about-good design should further the world we live in-yes even in clothes, as they have such an influence over the way a person feels. if we are going to design we should be making it worth it!!i dont see an overall appreciation of that in new zealand when it comes to clothing, there is a huge difference between paying that bit extra for something holding true to ‘good design’, yet most people are not interested, they choose to turn a blind eye for the cheap option.
    eventually consumers are going to split into two categories-those that care about design integrity and those that dont, and there will be designers and stores to cater for both, we just need people who push through and struggle with the hard work that goes into it for those tht care.
    i have such a great respect for the young designers that do make the effort and stick with it in new zealand. but for me, it is straight off overseas as soon as i can.

  39. Anonymous says

    oh and one more thing, when i say good design and design integrity, what im talking about doesnt have to be completely new and amazing, design for clothing encompases all things-fit and comfort as well as aesthetic-but if it has a good idea and the designer is trusting in the reasons behind it it will have a place in the market. that to me is good design, integrity in what you are doing and creating.

  40. says

    Interesting there has been no comment yet from NZ-based fashion PR agents here.

    The comment earlier about the NZ media being lazy is an interesting one. I, for one, believe that in the last 5 years or so, the onset of ‘the fashion PR showroom’ in NZ has been a huge asset to the media in general. I don’t think they have become lazy, but I do think (I know) they have been given far greater access than ever before to a far wider range of labels and designers than ever before, and for some of them it’s made their job a lot easier. The pages of their magazines have become fuller than ever before with new labels and products, some which warrant the space, and some that don’t.

    To Isaac’s question about whether or not the labels in NZ that get so much PR deserve the attention they receive, I believe that most of them do. From experience, the media cull and edit ideas just as much as they say Yes to ideas, so there’s certainly not the ideology that if a PR pitches a product or idea, it’s a done deal.

    I also believe we have a unique fashion media set in NZ in that they want to promote NZ designers over international ones, sometimes due to availability and often because they want to support a growing industry.

    Speaking of growing industries, fashion PR in NZ is alive and well, whereas a few years back it was thought of as an impossible art in NZ, and one our industry simply wasn’t big enough for. I believe the growth of fashion PR in NZ has been a factor in helping spur on more designers, and of course for those designers to receive unprecedented exposure. Dan Gosling said a few years back “Fashion designers are the new rock stars”, and this, for me, is the epitomy of where our industry is at right now. A lot of people are turning their hand to design, photography and styling, and there’s always going to be those who win, and those who fail (epicly). Some of those who have experienced that ‘Epic Fail’ have also been the ones who have had a lot of PR coverage, but the cream always rises to the top…

    To address Isaac’s first question, as a fashion PR showroom we have many clients who have had great success in sales growth through nothing but PR and smart marketing, and I know those labels will grow to the point where they can afford to advertise, and this is the ultimate goal. A multi-disciplinary marketing strategy is always going to win over a one-trick pony, plus there has to be a tangible way for these designers to one day repay the media for all of their support.

    But I’ll add that the designers out there that have grown and succeeded are the ones with talent and substance. The ones that peddle schmutter are easy to spot, and the paying public will not buy their wares long-term even with a great story and a few pretty pages of editorial.

  41. Katie Sunday Magazine says

    Great discussion here Isaac.

    I think our fashion PRs do an amazing job, and I for one would not be able to put Sunday Magazine’s fashion pages together without their help. In fact, getting PR representation is one of the first things I recommend a new designer (who’s serious about growth) look into doing. A good PR agent will do so much more for you than just get your stuff into magazines, they’ll offer advice about branding, business development and the direction future collections should take. When all you want to do is put your head down and focus on designing cool shit, having someone to help you with all this is invaluable.

    Having said that, budding fashion designers do need to get real about what the career is actually like these days. It’s no longer just enough to be able to sew beautifully and design with originality and integrity – you need to embody your brand, be prepared to go the extra mile to get it into the right people’s hands and control how it’s perceived on so many levels. You also need to be prepared to be over-worked and under-resourced for many, many seasons before you begin to make any proper money.

    Everyone says it, but I’m not sure if anyone believes it – don’t get into the fashion industry to make money! Only do it because you live it and love it.

  42. Anonymous says

    Dan Gosling said a few years back “Fashion designers are the new rock stars”, and this, for me, is the epitomy of where our industry is at right now.

    probably the dumbest and most indulgent comment i have ever read.

  43. media says

    1. There are only 3 good PR agencies. Mint, Showroom22, Process. All the others are not strong – editorially. Harsh but true.

    2. There aren’t a lot of press/media here in NZ so they just go to these three PR and do one stop only – just being lazy.
    Magazines don’t survive here in NZ. If so, they are always in bankruptcy like Black magazine.

    3. There aren’t too many young designers here in NZ. so OF COURSE media have nothing to talk about. If so, that designer gets targeted – once again, lazyness.

    4. NZ is too small for media. too small for designers and too small for $$$. Geographically speaking and population. Go to Sydney and Melbourne if you want to survive.

    5. NZ’s Tall Poppy Syndrome.

    6. NZ follows last year’s trend because we are northern.

    7. Outside of NZ doesn’t know that NZ has a fashion week.

    8. Pamela was the biggest thing at Fashion week lol Enough said.

  44. Anonymous says

    Does any one remember Britt Marion Hume when she was at Aussie Vogue, I think she was bought out from the London Telegraph to be the Editor.

    This was around the time that Australia first started fashion week…. Marion had NO FEAR in writing as she saw it, and this forced designers to designers pick up there game, she was scathing to anyone copying from Europe or that she believed could do better.

    Marion’s report was always waited for with much anticipation, I believe NZ needs a similar critique, maybe someone not from our shores, that has a fresh untarnished opinion?

  45. says

    from the perspective of someone who did make the move to melbourne i can safely say that it is not any easier over here.

    bigger pond, sure, but that also makes it harder to crack as a new label. with all the press centralised in sydney, without a press agency the amount of money you’d spend on couriers back and forth means that it makes more financial sense to actually have a base in sydney, with the actual benefit of the agency working for you.

    in terms of turning exposure into sales, i see that as a responsibility for the label. you have to communicate the market you’re targeting to the agency so you can get the coverage in the right pages to catch the attention of the appropriate buyers and then once they do place an order you can ensure the sell through.

    on another level, with the internet a label can easily funnel any press coverage into their own web shop which can translate into real dollars straight away.

    it’s pretty rare to find any industry that doesn’t have any trace of favouritism. what might seem like overnight success on the back of “who you know” is partly just persistence rewarded.

  46. The Verdict says

    Just out of interest Isaac, have you ever applied your initial questions to your own PR? Do you think it’s worked for you in your field? Has it increased your revenue and do you think your exposure has been warranted? It’s worth discussing if we’re on the topic of PR.

  47. Anonymous says

    As a designer who is represented by one of the mentioned showrooms I have some pretty strong feelings on these topics.
    Firstly I don’t believe you can’t make it financially in NZ in fashion especially when you sell high end you have high profit margins.

    But as Murray says the cream will rise to the top.
    Tthere are other brands out there who have a much ‘cooler’ image (due to PR) in the media than others but when people go in store to buy said cool brand they often leave with other items they prefer due to quality and design which will usually outsell cool in the long run.

    I think that PR is one of the best things a brand can do for themselves but this doesn’t mean a brand can sit back and not keep pushing and driving their success and sales. PR helps get brands in front of people who are not out there searching for what is hot right now, people who may not be reading blogs or caring about trends or even fashion so may never hear about some brands without PR.

    I think that PR makes it easier for magazines but stylists and writers working at our NZ magazines are not stupid and don’t just run products or stories because they have to, they have a choice, they are actually quite intelligent you know.
    I think some media choose to cover brands due to how they personally perceive them and sometimes having high end designers in a magazine actually puts the magazine at a certain level too. But overall I think they are mostly really fair and give everyone a chance, how could they not?

    Some NZ media has the power to sell product – sunday, viva, canvas etc work well because they reach a huge audience – the audience with the cash flow. But I think some NZ brands get more financial return when they appear in overseas publications.

    Also do not be fooled, some of the content in magazines appear as product placement but are fully paid for.

    Media is misleading – tv personalities always appear to have perfect lives and designers appear to be successful and loaded when it may not be entirely true.

    In the end I think people just buy what they like and will find a way to afford it if they love it weather they choose to buy on aesthetics or branding/PR/advertising influence, only the individual will know.

    Oh and trends – they don’t just happen, they come from a whole lot of designers being inspired and influenced by the same things.

    Lastly – I have found that PR has definitely helped drive sales and it is cheaper to have someone do PR for you than employ an individual to do it. It allows more time to focus on running a good business. Though I think when you start out and have no budget you can still do a pretty good job of your own PR if you have the balls.

  48. says

    I’ve come to enjoy the NZ Herald’s Wednesday Viva magazine, its weekly so very up to date. But the advantages of PR, advertorial etc be it print, TV or radio is questionable these days. Research is showing more people today base their purchasing decisions on information from the internet, TV technology is enabling us to skip adverts all together and high end fashion magazines only preach to the converted. With regard to new designers, PR fostered the post modern consumer mindset of always craving ‘the next new thing’. In a world now full of special new bands, talented new designers from freak wunderkinds the spotlight is constantly moving, its now 15 minutes and curtains. At the same time this means many first timers are getting some pretty amazing coverage.

  49. says

    I actually wonder if it is just Isaac preaching the opinion of descension… Mr/Ms Anon speaks of things that you would only truely believe if some stood up and took credit for…

    Anon gets some guts and take ownership, or else youe irrelevant as far as I am concerned… loser deal with it like piece of lost society that you are…

  50. Anonymous says

    I have e few questions:

    Can a PR agent (or a label signed to one) perhaps let us know the costing involved to be represented?

    I have been thinking on this for some time & cannot think of more than say 10-15 stylists and 5-7 magazines that produce decent work in Nz.. true?

    So how hard can it really be to get in contact with these stylists or magazines? Can anyone not represented tell us?

    Are our stylists so lazy that they will only head to a PR agent for stock? or do they shop around other places as well?

    And lastly, can someone list all the big players in Nz fashion & say if & who there PR agent is.

  51. gen says

    it would take you about 5 seconds to find out that info on google.

    My understanding is that PRs are paid on a percentage commission so accordingly it is in their interests to get your ranges on racks and sold.

    The one excellent fashion PR that I know personally excels in getting the right media coverage for her designers, but more importantly puts together great shows and gets her labels on the backs of people seen to be influential and aspirational.

  52. Olivia C says

    I would say Murray Bevan at Showroom22 is the best when it comes to actually REPRESENTING the labels in NZ.

    And no, PRs don’t get commissions! Gen must be a little bit confused dear.

    As far as i know about Mint Condition – who set up after Showroom22 – is just all over the place.

    PR isn’t about production, styling.. it’s about representing it’s clients and connects them with RIGHT media and functions.

    PRs in NZ is dumb compared to Australia. Yes, there would be only 4-6 good stylists and only 4-5 good magazines.. or even less. Hurtful. Ouch!

    Zambesi/Trelise/Kate Sylvester etc have their own PR man/lady in house.

    Murray is good. Very good. Professional. Well dressed. Articulate. Very PR minded.

  53. says

    How come no ones brought up the hybrid PR houses. The ones that represent both fashion and other goods. Like energy drinks and wine and shit. I think it’s Beat? They do Nom*D and vitamin water and a whole bunch of stuff. Pros cons? It’d be good to hear from someone who works at a label, like actually works at the label (i.e not the designer) who’s dealt with both kinds of PR. Or maybe it wouldn’t be interesting at all, I don’t know.

  54. Anonymous says

    Public library is another good little PR company that do ksubi, therese rawthorne etc. But still very small and no parties/goodies to get people talking about it

  55. Public Library says

    Hey anonymous….thanks for the compliment!
    ill work on the goodie bags and parties huh? I have only been open for a year so still a little new….

    As a Sales and PR agent I have totally seen sales increase…

    I think actually making money if you are a designer is a long process..but hopeful. Of course for the first few years your sales go direct to production costs etc….as your sales grow of course production costs become greater,but increased sales eventually lead to an increase in profit. And I strongly do believe that PR is a necessity to product awareness and at the end of the day SALES!

    If one thing is featured in Viva or Sunday for instance it is almost guaranteed this will increase sales for that one garment in all retail stores that week.
    And fantastic magazines such as No and Black contribute to pushing NZ fashion to the world…

  56. Anonymous says

    Hello Public Library, I have tried googling you but you seem hard to locate (due to the lge number or real libraries in NZ) what is your website?

    Do you only Pr Aussie labels? or you are interested in NZ ones as well?

  57. Public Library says

    Hello Anonymous….check out the Ksubi or Therese Rawsthorne websites…my details are on them both.
    Email me for sure..

  58. Anonymous says

    I believe PR is an essential medium for th fashion industry as it allows the designers to focus on their collections.

    PR provides:
    1. coverage of the clothes
    2. relationships with media
    3. relationships with key publics – This can be explained through the most obvious; such as organising fashion shows and inviting VIP customers, buyers, cool kids etc.

    Whilst PR communicates the label to the public, without the presence of the designer this is useless. People love to put a face to the name, personality is everything! As Katie@sunday said designers need to embody their brand. This can be done with the help of PR professionals who provide the opportunities for designers to get their face out there.

    The growing strength of the PR industry is very exciting! It not only demonstrates the infastrusture that is now in place to support New Zealand designers but also highlights some amazing talent eg Lucy Slater, Murray Bevan.

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