NEW YORK--Some vendors say scheduling a meeting with a buyer from QVC or HSN is about as easy as getting an audience with the Pope. The problem stems from the popularity of television home shopping: With more manufacturers interested in selling on TV, buyers are staggering under the weight of hundreds of samples each week. "It's almost impossible to deal with HSN and QVC," said Dorrane Jung, former director of marketing of original programming for MCA/Universal Home Video. "I was just doing research to find out what the terms of sales are. I was unable to get someone to call me back." "They're not prepared to follow up," said one vendor. "What they've done is push us into a situation where getting products on QVC is a slow and tedious process." While many of the companies most coveted by the networks still view electronic retailing as too downscale for their products, there is no shortage of firms willing to sell to HSN or QVC. But a company's size is no guarantee. "Even Fortune 500 companies haven't been able to get a foot in the door and have their calls returned," said an industry consultant. "Many of the buyers have a retail background and are not familiar with direct response, so things that would not work at retail will be turned down, although with a specific slant they could work on home shopping." The surfeit of products and phone calls, along with the increased pressure of processing them all, has not gone unnoticed by home shopping executives. "We've been getting much more sensitive to this issue about how deluged the buyers are," said Bill Lane, director of new product and merchandise development at QVC. "The attitude is that we want and need new products." QVC recently created a vendor relations department, which accepts 200 to 250 phone calls a day from people with products, ideas or concepts, then forwards them a product questionnaire. "Our goal is for every one of the vendor questionnaires to get a response within two to three weeks," said James Held, executive vice president of merchandising, sales and product planning at QVC. HSN has seen requests for its vendor information kit increase dramatically this year, said Doug Bailey, president of Home Shopping Club, the retailing arm of HSN. "We have a central reservation desk where any manufacturer calling to present goods is scheduled to see a merchant," he said, adding that HSN has 42 buyers. "Sometimes it may take a month or two to see a buyer, which in our opinion is not responsive enough." HSN is also holding an open vendor day Aug. 25. "Our intent is to allow manufacturers not currently selling to home shopping to present items in 15 minutes to a buyer," Bailey said. "By doing this monthly, we hope we can also open the door to someone who doesn't know how to sell to us or feels they don't have a chance." The fact that some vendors feel lost in the bureaucracy of the giant shopping networks is underscored by the growing use of product brokers. The brokers, who take a percentage of the manufacturer's product sales--usually 5 to 10 percent--have contacts at QVC and HSN that give them access to buyers. They come from different backgrounds, including sales, the infomercials industry and talent agencies. The brokers are usually referred from vendor to vendor and agree to represent products they think will succeed on TV. "The only way to get in is to use a broker to get the buyer's attention," said a vendor. "Major manufacturers are using brokers too." One SA manufacturer said her broker "knows everyone at QVC, and whoever she doesn't know she can get to because she has her foot in the door." The selling networks deny encouraging the use of brokers. "We do not force brokers because many times it affects the price of the product," said Held. "We're delighted to get products from the manufacturer." However, a source close to QVC said, "The official answer would be no, but the reality is that if a broker knows how to deal with [QVC], it's easier to use a broker. I can see why vendors may feel they need a broker." Bailey of HSC said, "To the extent that a broker provides a worthwhile service, it's okay. But if the broker lives nearby and communicates to the marketplace that he can get something on HSC, I would discourage it." Aside from brokers, there are other types of facilitators. Steven Dworman, the publisher of The Infomercial Marketing Report, an industry newsletter, organized The First Annual Home Shopping Buying Symposium as a way for vendors to meet home shopping buyers. The symposium, which will be held in Marina del Rey, Calif., in September, includes a sunset cruise with "the industry's top buyers" and seminars about "what the networks are really looking for in terms of products." Dworman promises to deliver representatives from HSN, QVC, The S Channel and ValueVision. The cost: $3,995. Held said QVC has added merchandise directors and buyers and hired Lane, an executive from the former shopping show "Can We Shop?" to source and develop new merchandise. The network currently has 45 buyers. However, five buyers recently left QVC to join Fingerhut's new S Channel. Held said the resignations had no impact on the buying operation. But with new shopping networks such as The S Channel about to be launched, experienced buyers for television shopping are going to be even more in demand. And the situation is likely to get worse before it improves. "There are a limited number of people who really understand this industry, and as the additional networks come on-line, these people are being split more ways now," said Jeffrey Glickman, president of First Class Marketing. "There is already a backlog of products going to buyers. The movement of people from one home shopping network to another is going to delay it even more." Unlike some of the other networks, S is dividing its buying organization into seven teams, each covering a product category, to keep communication open between buyers, marketers, directors, producers and show talent, who must all weigh in on a product's feasibility. "The intent is to move quickly and not let any issues interfere with a decision," said Dick Tate, vice president of merchandising for The S Channel. "You never know what might come through the door," Tate said. "It might be the next Susan Powter."
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast