THE FIRST RUNWAY SHOW: An opportunity?

I was invited to exhibit a clothing collection at a new fashion runway event held in my home town and nation’s capital, Canberra. Yes… alas, it is true. I come from the land before time. Where a constant stigma of “you’re from Canberra?” is plagued by the somehow worse comment: “What do you do for fun there?”. The thing with Canberra, is that it is much like a small country town. You need to be a part of it to understand the liveliness of it.

That being said, I admit that there is a lack of culture when it comes to fashion in Canberra. Fashion events, shows and exhibitions are hard to come by and when they do, they are generally conservative, commercial and underpinned by capitalism… A lack of creativity and an abundance of race wear. And I’m not saying that every fashion house in Canberra is deficient – check out Blonde Concept – but overall the community needs a shot of creative integrity, not a continuous stream of high end designers and fast fashion mega houses.

Photo’s from the ever fashionable Blonde Concept store. Nibu Building, Braddon, Canberra.

So when I was asked to be involved in a new fashion venture, I was frankly skeptical. At this time, in January 2019, I was also transitioning to Melbourne life, starting to lift my roots out of the capital. I needed time to process what this would mean for the brand, and also for me… In these early stages, it was hard to picture how an event like this would take place in a city like Canberra. The home of the middle class.

BRAND BUILDING

So I contemplated the positives and the negatives. When you own a creative business, or any business for that matter, it is of the upmost importance that the branding remains intact. The core values and beliefs of a brand should become its DNA. The identity of a brand is dependent on its recognizable traits. Whatever that may be.

Venus Blooms for example, is for the unique, expressive and conscious individual who understands what it is to be atypically feminine, through vintage psychedelia and grunge. Taking inspiration from two unexpected aspects: the bohemian south-west and 90’s club culture. With strong core beliefs on local production, quality garments and sustainability. Ultimately, to be interesting in the unexpected.

My hesitations stemmed from this. Would the event, styling, music, entertainment and audience reflect the brand? Would it be a detriment to our core beliefs to be associated with the show? Venus Blooms has a particular niche market. It’s designed for the individuals who have an interest in the freedom and fashion associated with the late sixties and seventies. For those who like to dance during the day and into the night. Those who have an interest in astrology, well-being and fantasy. Would the guests understand that vision?

But I took a chance on the Canberra fashion show, and here’s why.

INCREASED CUSTOMER BASE AND INDUSTRY CONNECTIONS

When you are starting a fashion brand, building your audience is essential. Although it is true, that you need the right type of people to join your vision, the people who stay are the people who truly understand it. Showing a collection to 350 guests is beneficial, even if some of them don’t understand the vibe. Because even if half of them do, it offers a whole new range of potential customers. But it’s the prospective industry connections, that offer the biggest benefit. From the business side; partner’s, wholesalers, journalists, bloggers and collaborators. The creative side; photographers, videographers, stylists, make-up artists, hair-dressers and designers. The potential is absolutely huge.

MARKETING MATERIAL

Imagine the marketing material. Professional photos and videos to use on social media, a blog post, the website… the list goes on (with the creative rights of course). Sure, when you’re running your own show it all costs money. But getting it for free through an all paid for show? I’m down for that.

SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE

Social media to the younger generation is like shortbread and tea to the older. For a start-up brand, it is a vital market to tap into. The free advertising it provides is almost as good as a huge logo slapped across a Kardashian butt. In the last 5 years especially, Instagram has given a platform to many aspiring fashionistas. A fashion event like this usually results in a plethora of Instagram stories and posts. Potentially, sharing a video or photo from our portion of the show (and hence free advertising). Boo-yah.

EXPERIENCE

And lastly, comes the experience. Gaining knowledge of fashion event management, back-stage organisation and running a pop up shop. Learning the techniques and rules for public relations and dealing with the press. A better understanding of your brand and the creative process, what it means to have time deadlines and remaining motivated. Hands-on experience you can’t pick up in fashion school.

So after a couple of weeks of deliberation, I decided it was integral for the brand to explore more avenues for creative exploration. Seeing the event begin to unfold, the venue being booked, the other creatives and the sponsors on board urged me further to jump on the opportunity.

Sure, it would mean an expensive flight to the capital and an incredibly short time frame to come up with something beautiful, but all in all: you have to work hard if you’re going to play hard. And so it was set in stone.


Six weeks until the first runway show. 

~ Charlotte

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