“[Jay Manuel] added that while they were filming in New Zealand, André would visit showrooms of young designers and bring him back presents. ‘He’d be out there and say, ‘Oh, these glasses are so Jay Manuel, he’s gotta have them.’ And I’d come back and they’d be in my trailer and I’d be like ‘André!’’ Jay raved.” – The Cut
The above is something I meant to talk about at the time that America’s Next Top Model was filming here in New Zealand, but it must have slipped my mind.
Having worked in the fashion industry in Auckland for seven or eight years now, I know most of the local protagonists – the designers, the PR agents and the retail staff. If there’s one thing that unites New Zealand labels, it’s how different their operating practices are. This manifests itself in plenty of ways, from the obvious – the look and feel of the stores; to the obscure – the way in which a press release in written. But there does seem to be one area where they largely agree, and that’s the gifting of product.
Not to say that designers in New Zealand are stingy – nor that I myself have never been the recipient of swag – but by and large, New Zealand designers don’t just go around willy nilly giving product away. However. This policy seemed to fly out the window when the America’s Next Top Model judges were in town.
Stores with a no-gift policy suddenly fell all over themselves to try and get their product on the backs of the judges. Every time Andre Leon Talley and Miss Jay walked through a door, they’d walk out with hordes of free stuff.
I gave Murray Bevan of Showroom 22 (in the interests of disclosure, Murray is my flatmate) a call, to ask about his experience with the judges, and his opinion on gifting product.
He told me that of the 25 or so companies he represents, “Very, very few give away free product, and if it does happen, it’s extremely targeted. As soon as you give something to somebody it immediately devalues it unless you can see that they’re dying to have it.”
When Andre Leon Talley visited Showroom 22 to borrow clothes for a show (presumably the ANTM finale runway challenge), Murray tells me he made a beeline for the eyewear. “He tried on a few pairs, I said they looked good on him and asked if he’d like to keep them. He took eight pairs in total, some Ksubi and some Karen Walker, for himself, Tyra Banks, Miss Jay and Jay Manuel. When we saw Miss Jay the next day, he’d been wearing his glasses all day walking around town. The proof is in the pudding.”
Okay so that makes sense to me.
Another story I heard, however, didn’t. A retail assistant friend of mine (who prefers to be unnamed) was instructed by his boss to gift a pair of imported boots to one of the judges. These were boots that would be available at probably 50 different stores around the world, so, even if the judge was photographed in them, couldn’t possibly be linked back to the Auckland store.
Then there was Karen Walker. Tyra Banks went to her store and bought a beige trench coat. Apparently, no discount was given. That’s one way to ensure the piece will be worn.
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