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What Is The Role Of Fashion Promotion, And How Will It Develop Over The Next Five Years?

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What is the role of fashion Promotion within the fashion Industry, and how will it develop over the next five years?

In an age where fashion and technology is constantly evolving it is important that we take a step back and take a look at the current happenings in the promotional side of the fashion industry. The fashion show,a key tool to making designers collections accessible to its consumer, will be the main focus of this essay. We shall define fashion promotion before looking at how the catwalk sits under this title. A brief history of the fashion show shall lead us into the present day, where we shall begin the debate of whether some fashion shows need be as extravagant and expensive as they are. We will look at well known designers that have showcased their collections in an artistic and creative way and discuss the success and motive behind each performance. In conclusion we shall discuss whether this promotional tool shall grow to become more extravagant or whether a new form of presenting a brand should develop.

To begin we must look at the meaning of the word, fashion, and how that then sits along the side of promotion. Barnard acknowledges the different senses of the word, 'fashion'. Ranging from, 'the action or the process of making' through to, 'conventional usage in dress' (2002b). The former recognizes,'fashion' as a verb as opposed to the latter which we would understand the word to be a noun.

To promote, is defined by Gem as 'to further the progress of,raise a higher rank,status degree'(1990). In other words to take what you have got and develop it in some way. Bugg combines both words to explain that fashion promoters deal with what happens to clothes after they have been made (2007). This confirms both Barnards understanding of 'fashion' as a noun and the definition of the verb, 'to promote' (1990).

Once the process of creating the clothing has been fulfilled the ideas and final result must be communicated. These creators or designers are keen to promote their own wares (Breward, 2003). Therefore, designers hold fashion shows as media events to attract attention (Oelhers,2004). These shows can be seen at certain events such as London fashion week, which is organized to promote this Ј13 billion industry (Alexander,2005).

'The catwalk can be traced back to the turn of the twentieth century. Although fashion shows are hard to identify,documentation exists from 1885,that show four women modeling clothes. However the actual promotion of the clothing from such events did not happen until designers recognized that photographers could in fact benefit their work. Photographers are highly marketable and allowing photographers into shows as well as more people would increase the marketability of the products being displayed'(2006).

Here it is important to be aware of how designers attitudes changed from just producing a garment to thinking about the marketability of it, which in turn lead to the consumption of it.

As you can see the main purpose of the show has always been either to connect the viewer with the retail store or to gain publicity for a designers collection (Oelhers 2004).It is a fast way to reach the consumer,explain what the brand is about and to achieve recognition within the industry. Designers want to ensure that when you see an image from their show, you can immediately identify their particular look. It is a fast way of illustrating a brand.(Tungate, 2004,12)

Let us remind ourselves of what we are currently seeing in todays show. Bugg describes the catwalk as a stage(2007),it would be fair to say that it not only presents the clothes to its audience but also presents a spectacle that tells a story. Fashion shows have grown from being promotional events into artistic creations in themselves (Bohdanowicz & Clamp, 1994). Yes, a show can range from a very complex, expensive production by a designer to a simple,informal showing in a store (Oelhers,2004). And of course designers are not obliged to show in public but as Tungate points out, designers want to maintain visibility and their is nothing like a fashion show to display their art(2004,12). However like with any industry,things are changing and developments always occurring which are affecting many parts of the fashion industry. Tungate goes on to highlight the most obvious development is the availability on the web. The images of a show are displayed less than an hour after the designer has taken a bow. With this easy accessibility there is becoming less and less need for buyers to attend shows and instead they are able to choose their key pieces right from their own offices. Tungate also recognizes that private 'pre collection' gatherings in showrooms are taking place before the actual show. This gives the buyer a chance to place their orders without the 'razza matazz and overheads' (Tungate,2004,12) of a show. One may ask that if 70% of stock is being sold at pre collections ( Tungate,2004,12) then why is it necessary for designers to stage a show at all?This comes back to what we mentioned earlier about showcasing the brand .A show is no longer about selling a particular garment it is about selling the look and that is McDowells justification into its considerable costs. He believes that a show easily costs Ј150,000 and this sum cannot be used just for the designers indulgence,it has to serve a purpose.

Let's take a look at what Tungate might mean when using the word 'razzmatazz'. Perhaps the best example for us to look at is Karl Lagerfelds Fall/Winter 07 collection that was recently staged on the Great Wall of China.(Figure 1).

Figure 1

Valentina comments that, 'it wasn't the clothes so much as the staging that was so monumental'(Valentina, 2007). Here is a clear indication that fashion shows are not so much about the garments worn by the models but rather the location and surroundings that help sell the collection. As you can see from the image this,' staged fashion show atop the great wall of china was capped off with giant double F logos projected onto neighboring mountains'(Administrator,2007). This extravagant background is further justified by Fendi's chief executive Michael Burke who believed the show was, 'about positioning Fendi for the next fifty years' (Administrator,2007). Karl Lagerfeld (cited in Administrator,2007) remarks that 'It is all about the logo'(cited in Administrator,2007). These two comments again draw on what we discussed earlier about Illustrating and showcasing the brand. However is the' upward cost of $10 million'(Administrator,2007)

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