WWD’s guide on how to stage a successful trunk show.
It’s fall, and once again it’s trunk show time. Will customers post your invite to the fridge door? Or will it be tossed in the trash? It all depends on your reputation for lively, educational affairs. Here’s how to stage the best possible show.
Go Local. At Krista K in Chicago, owner Krista Kaur Meyers featured on Sept. 19 two local designers together for the store’s inaugural trunk show.
"As a Chicago-based retailer, I think it’s important to support the burgeoning Chicago fashion industry," she said.
Meyers said the locals, Beth Lambert of Scarlet Designs and Courtney Shannessy of Coco Plumb, are "individuals I’ve been excited about and not widely available in Chicago. Both use great color and texture. The items are striking and different, and not like things you’d see in other stores." That quality appeals to her thirtysomething customers, who are on the prowl for unusual items.
The three-hour show was held on a Thursday evening, which permitted women to stop by after leaving work. Meyers served sushi and cocktails, and both Lambert and Shannessy were on hand to discuss their wares.
Mix and Match.
Why show one collection when you can show two? On Aug. 20 Atlanta retailer Pursenality With Sole offered customers a taste of two different dishes: conservative Cole Haan and the kickier contemporary line Icon. Why? To get two kinds of customers in the door. "You get a whole barrage of different people in," said Jackie Miklas, owner of the two-unit chain. "They look at something they wouldn’t have thought interesting before, because it’s a different presentation."
To ensure that mix of customers, Miklas sent out 5,000 postcard invitations. The day of the show, merchandise was displayed on round tables. "Each collection has to look good," Miklas said. "It’s as if the customers are buyers going to market."
Similarly, Sirens & Sailors in Los Angeles holds monthly parties that showcase the store’s new arrivals from all of its designers. To lend the shows a party feel, they’re often held in a downtown loft, said a store spokeswoman.
There’s strength in numbers. That’s why the tony Phipps Plaza shopping center in Atlanta stages a "Trunk Show Extravaganza" each spring and fall. Between 25 and 30 of the mall’s 100 stores have participated in past shows, which last for a month, said Nicole Bostic, the mall’s marketing director.
Mall management does its part by putting on a wine tasting or other events, lining up a celebrity and lending a hand with advertising. Bostic said the mall informs shoppers about the promotion in several ways: it sends mailers to the VIP clientele of each store; runs radio and magazine ads; touts the event in its newsletter; and promotes it on its Web site. The extravaganza has boosted sales, but Bostic wouldn’t say by how much. "It’s helped," she said. "A few stores have indicated that they might not have had an event [without the mall-wide effort.]"
Make it interactive.
When showcasing T-shirt line Rigged, Los Angeles retailer Dari invited customers to bring in their old T-shirts for the line’s designer to customize. "We sent out cards for people to book an appointment, and within a week she was booked solid," said owner Melanie Shatner of the October 2001 event. She donated profits from the event to a Sept. 11 relief fund. "People were so eager to do something to help," she said.
Reach out and help somebody.
Escada’s elaborate runway shows do more than thrill audiences — they benefit worthy causes. On Sept. 5, the company staged a "Couture Caravan" at its Plano store, inviting clients in for champagne and hors d’oeuvres and informal modeling. Because the store does not carry couture in stock, the caravan was a treat for clients as well as Young Audiences of Greater Dallas, an arts non-profit to which 10% of sales were donated.
Bring in a star.
To really rev up a show, invite the biggest name you can find (if the designer is based overseas, it is likely to be an even bigger draw). Tootsies, a Houston, Tex.-based chain, invited designer Andrew Gn to show his fall collection at the retailer’s Houston and Dallas stores. The shows took place April 23 and 24 in Houston and April 25 and 26 in Dallas. "It was wildly successful," said Penne Weidig, senior buyer for American and European collections. Gn’s appearance at the two stores garnered nearly $300,000 in sales, Weidig said.Gn agreed to the event because the stores, which carry him exclusively in Houston and Dallas, placed large spring and fall orders. "He was excited about it, and so were customers," Weidig said. Aside from sales, the event generated a fair amount of publicity for the store, she added.
TRUNK SHOW 101
Following, tips on how to wow the crowd.
Educate your sales staff. School them on how customers can work the pieces into their wardrobes.
"Customers really want information on how to care for items and what the trends are," said Jackie Miklas of Atlanta’s Pursenality With Sole.
Court the customer. Have sales associates and buyers call key customers. Also, try new marketing techniques: Tootsies, for example, has gone as far as making look books for customers, featuring designs from lines being showcased.
Pay attention to presentation. Highlight the merchandise with lighting, tablecloths and special placement in the store. "When customers walk in they know something exciting is happening," Miklas said.
Consult the calendar. Shows scheduled before holidays or the week before kids go back to school are sure to tank.
Blast the music. Ear-pounding tunes don’t make for an inviting atmosphere.
Overdo it. Heavily staged, complicated shows only beef up the margin for error.
Repeat yourself. With each successive show, do something totally different than the last show, Tootsies’ Penne Weidig said.
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)