It seems like only a few years ago when most of us African fashion enthusiasts could barely name an African fashion designer. Today, however, this is not the case. With what seems like hundreds of African fashion designers, some consumers find themselves overwhelmed with the choices now available.
Now, we have the benefit of choice and can make purchases from whichever brand catches our fancy. Easy for us. Designers, however, do not have it as easy. For emerging designers, it could be challenging to determine the best strategy to take in order to distinguish their brand from the ever expanding sea of talented African designers. There are a number of ways in which this can be achieved. You don’t necessarily need to have a fashion show showcasing your latest collection. The quality of the execution for your brand’s promotions can end up having quite a significant, if not greater impact, than more expensive efforts.
Here are four tips to help you ‘work’ your brand without breaking the bank. These tips will be especially useful to emerging designers working with a conservative promotional budget.
1. Use Social Media: Having a social media presence requires more than simply having a Facebook or Twitter profile. You need to have an active profile by constantly engaging with your followers. Some of the ways you can keep your brand’s followers engaged are: giving a sneak preview of a new collection, promoting upcoming events where your brand will be featured, sharing photos and quotes of your brand’s mention in the news, posting pictures of a celebrity rocking your design and getting feedback to aid in creating future collections. Social media platforms also allow your followers to promote your brand with the aid of sharing and re-tweeting features. Be sure to also determine what social media best suits your brand.
2. Follow up after Fashion Shows: What happens after each fashion show is just as, perhaps even more important than what happens during the show. This is because you have fashion buyers in attendance. You need to have your product in stores so as to expose your brand to a wider clientele and increase your sales. After each fashion show, follow up with prospective buyers by sending them a lookbook. They have seen many shows and might not remember your designs. They might also have liked your designs but were unable to contact you for whatever reason. Simplify their lives by sending them a lookbook as this will also put your brand in a favourable light. Make their life easy have had the opportunity to contact you. You’ll never know unless you try!
3. Join Local Designer Associations: In addition to having access to resources, including financing, to help elevate your brand, you remain in the loop of what other fellow designers are involved in. This way, you can be confident of being kept informed of developments in your scene.
4. Keep it Clean: From your tailoring to the quality of photos in your brand’s lookbook. High quality is a key to success. As a designer, knowing that your designs are made perfectly helps boost your confidence and this comes across in your brand presentation! One of the best referrals your brand can get is from an impressed customer.
Regardless of what medium you choose, be consistent in displaying the true spirit of your brand.
-Photo description: Model walks in Ghana’s Christie Brown at Arise Fashion Week 2010
-Photocredit: Simon Deiner/SDR Photo