Getting Your Jewelry on the Runway

Jewelers are finding publicity success through the fashion runway. Regional fashion shows are teeming with celebrities, socialites, reporters and industry insiders. What better place to be discovered?

Keren Peled of Keren Jewelry contributed to this blog based on her experiences with runway shows such as the Abaete Bryant Park show during New York Fashion Week, which is pictured here. Thank you!

The World of Fashion

Model wearing Vostenak Jewelry
Model wearing Vostenak Jewelry

People traditionally think of magazine advertising or a website when they market their businesses. Some jewelers are also finding publicity success through the fashion runway. Regional fashion shows are teeming with celebrities, socialites, reporters and industry insiders. What better place to be discovered?

Fashion weeks are popping up in metropolitan areas across the nation. These shows showcase established national designers as well as emerging indie talents against a backdrop of local cultural flavor.

Valerie Ostenak of VOSTENAKstudios was recently mentored through her first Phoenix Fashion Week by experienced designer Keren Peled of Keren Jewelry whose work has been in top runway shows in New York and Los Angeles multiple times.

“Participating in Phoenix Fashion Week was an incredible experience for me. . . from the initial meetings with Executive Director Brian Hill and Director of Styling Celestial Williams to the designer business seminars and ‘the show’ it was a fabulous foray into how fashion works…”

said Ostenak.

Watch Valerie talk with Hilary about her experiences with the Phoenix Fashion Week on YouTube.

How Fashion Shows Work

Fashion shows are generally orchestrated by a management group that is responsible for the venue and promotion for the event. The management group is a good place to start for designers wanting to break into fashion since some shows offer seminars, social events or volunteer opportunities to help new designers make connections.

However, it is not show management that chooses accessories for the runway shows. Each clothing designer separately coordinates all aspects of their brief production including hair, make-up, and accessories. If you want to get jewelry on the runway, you must present it to the individual designers participating in the show.

Working With Fashion Designers

Model wearing Vostenak Jewelry
Model wearing Vostenak Jewelry

Needless to say, designers are busy people – especially in the months leading up to a fashion event and the debut of a new line. The bottom line is that getting the attention of clothing designers is tough. It requires year-round campaigning and networking. It is not easy, but it is possible to catch the attention of a clothing designer by contacting them and sending a digital portfolio. Be ready to pitch the jewelry brand by showing that it complements the designer’s work and appeals to the same audience.

Peled made her first clothing designer connection through a stylist friend. After a series of fortuitous meetings her work was featured in the global spotlight of New York Fashion Week. She said,

“seeing my work on such a major runway on top models was one of the most exciting moments of my life. Thinking back, The day was simply fabulous. Walking into the tents at Bryant Park and knowing that my work was part of it was simply magical. Quite a reward after such a long period of intense work.”

If a clothing designer agrees to include a jewelry line in their runway show, the real work has just begun. Typically, designers want input on the pieces that go in the show. That means lots of custom work and last minute tweaking during the weeks leading up to the show. The time investment and pressure are intense. Peled explained,

“The accessories can be decided on only once the clothing designers have finished their collections. That means that the stylist will not know what they actually need until 3 to 4 weeks before the show. Working around the clock becomes a must… Many late 4 am nights. I have gone through these times thanks to good friends that came to the rescue and were there for me when I needed them”

Setting Expectations

Model wearing Vostenak Jewelry
Model wearing Vostenak Jewelry

Fashion shows aren’t like trade shows where you can expect to write orders at the event. Instead, fashion shows are all about the media and generate a lot of press. Blogs and television shows often feature some of the show’s designers. There are buyers in attendance, but usually they are scouting and will place orders later. It’s important to have a catalog or printed materials available so that buyers at the show will remember your label and contact you. Some regional fashion weeks will also have a designer trunk show, expo or boutique crawl to facilitate buying opportunities.

Perhaps, one of the greatest benefits of being on the runway is access to professional photographs of runway models wearing your designs. With permission, you are able to use these photos on a business website and in printed materials. Model shots give credibility and prestige to a design label.

Jewelers who are outgoing and not afraid to self-promote will thrive in fashion show environments. Designers must not be afraid to introduce themselves to attendees and mingle in the after hours scenes. It is critical that a designer be present for the full schedule of events to maximize exposure opportunities. Network, network, network. During a single evening you can meet television show producers, stylists, boutique owners, and the local news anchor.

“It was the jump-start into the world of fashion, exactly where I want to take my work,”

said Ostenak.

Fashion shows are a lot of hard work, but fun filled events pulsing with energy. Attendees can learn the ropes and make fashion connections that may lead to more exposure and perhaps larger runway shows like New York, Los Angeles or Paris. Plus, you can enjoy music and a dry martini while promoting your business. Now that’s a good day at work.

Keren Peled is now offering consulting services for new jewelry designers getting started in the industry. Please visit her website for contact information. Valerie Ostenak is the 2009 winner of the Jewelry Design Business Development Grant sponsored by Halstead Bead, Inc.

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