Thursday, 30 April 2009

You Don't Even Know My Name - New Designers and Self Promotion

Regis McKenna once said, “Advertising can reinforce positions in the market, but it can’t create positions.” The large-scale ad campaigns and the catwalk shows of London Milan, Paris, and New York, are not the only outlets with which designers can publicize themselves. In fact, the cost of holding such a massive event, complete with models, lighting, music, seating, space rental, and the requisite goody bags for the press and the after parties, isn’t the most cost effective way of advertising yourself if, as McKenna implies, you’re not already well established. However my brief wasn’t really concerned with established designers. I was expected to find out how new designers were making their names known. What I discovered was that none of the designers I researched used any paid advertising. Most of their business had snowballed because of seemingly insignificant things like word of mouth and online social networking pages. Sites like Facebook, Myspace, Etsy, Twitter, and personal websites and blogs, coupled with the ease and near expectation that users will constantly have access to the internet via cell phones have created a formidable force of free advertising.

Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter in particular have grown beyond their modest roots as networking sites geared to American high school and college students. Today, politicians, celebrities, charitable organizations, magazines, retail stores, and of course, new and well-known designers have pages to support them. All but one of the designers that I will discuss in this post use social networking websites as a way to expose and endear themselves to the general public.

However the internet isn’t the only thing designers use to get amongst the public. Many collaborate with other designers and artists, some participate in design competitions, and others find industry related work as costume designers, stylists, or artists. A perfect example of this is the miniature knitter, Althea Crome. Crome was enlisted to create the knitted garments for the puppets in 2009 film Coraline. For three years Crome knitted garments at 1/12 scale; she claims to be the only knitter in the world that makes garments that small. Still other designers instead of working outside their labels use showrooms, industry connections, consign their garments to local stores, or participate in craft fairs to raise awareness of their brands. 

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