|PRINT PUBLICATIONS ARE STILL SEEN AS THE HOLY GRAIL|
FOR FASHION WEEK PUBLICITY
Once upon a time one Julie Frederickson faked- for lack of a better word- her way into the tents at Bryant Park, the then home of New York Fashion Week, laptop in tow. Julie would upload pictures and reviews of the shows immediately after each one which gave her site an edge over the likes of Style.com let alone the magazines. Naturally, her approach meant a monopolisation of search engine results. Julie is perhaps one of the pioneers of blogging from the front rows of a fashion week. According to her, at the time (the mid-noughties), fashion brands were only willing to entertain fashion bloggers who were attached to traditional publications. They basically saw no value in the independent, keyboard crunchers that are now a force to be reckoned with be it in New York, London, Milan or Paris. Hell! Right now at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa one of their guests of honour is Scott Schuman- the Sartorialist himself. If only they took local bloggers as seriously.
From where I am sitting I find it ridiculous that organisers of fashion events have still not woken up to the potential that social media could have for their events and the designers whose interests they claim to serve. Bloggers are still treated as secondary to the traditional fashion media which in 2012 I see as nothing short of ... let's just be frank and say 'stupid'. At a time when the world's biggest fashion brands- Burberry, Vera Wang, Oscar De La Renta, Lanvin- are seeking ways of engaging their customers through social media, South Africans still find more value in having a fashion editor use designers' clothes in a fashion spread that will come out three months later. Once upon a time this was a great idea but how can it still be so when those images have been beamed around the world and back via some or other blog? Why not take the opportunity to use these bloggers as a vehicle to drive interest in local fashion? Why not partner with these bloggers to make the experience of fashion week not only immediate but more interactive? Why not integrate livestreams with a live Facebook feed where potential customers, sitting at home, can immediately view the images and comment, like or retweet? Better yet, why not sell the clothes immediately? Of course this would require that shows be aligned to the particular season, but why not? The world has changed, fashion does so every season, why can't the methods of selling it also change? I honestly feel that the days of fashion PR being about sending press releases to newspapers and magazine editors are over. It is time to move with the times. Knowing South Africans it is a shame that, of course, we will act like sheep and wait until these new methods of selling fashion become a standard elsewhere in the world before we see what is actually not rocket science as de rigueur.