Kathleen forwarded this email to me wondering if I had any advice for the designer. Since this type of thinking is more common than I would care to admit, I felt compelled to address it.
I am having a fashion show of my handwoven accessories next month. I have woven 42 pieces since Jan. 1, 2006 and done about a doz. beaded necklaces. I called people at Vogue, W and InStyle for the correct contact information and sent off my media kits to each. They were good about phone calls until I actually sent the media kits. No one even acknowledged with a form post card receiving my materials. Waiting for some acknowledgement I envisioned them laughingly throwing my precious media kits in the garbage without so much as taking them out of the envelopes. Ok so I didn’t get New York at least someone at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette had confirmed I would be getting coverage from them. But today got an email saying that the person they were sending had other plans and that they were sorry to miss it but well “you understand”. What I understand is that what I am left with in the way of coverage amounts to the equivalent of a mention in the church bulletin!
Now that I have vented, and I apologize for thatâ€¦ I want to see what I can do to loose the invisibility and have someone see me. No one knows me, so no one is interested in looking at my work. Did everyone start with the recognition of Anna Wintour or has everyone at one point needed someone to give them a chance? Where does one find that person? Someone to say â€˜Hey have you seen X’s work” she is good! My town is so far off the fashion radar that Target is the elite place to shop. How can I get someone to help me make the correct contacts? Anything you can suggest would be deeply appreciated.
The competition to get press coverage in top tier magazines like Vogue, W and InStyle is incredibly fierce. Not only that, they tend to work with designers who have a track record. There is always this fantasy that a top tier magazine’s angelic fairy will descend from the heavens and tap an unknown designer from Middle America and put him/her on the map, but that fantasy is better left to Hollywood movies and “reality” television shows. It rarely, rarely happens. And when it does, the designer is usually connected in some way and/or has a powerhouse publicist behind the scenes orchestrating things.
As designers, we have to face the reality that for most of us, there will be no shortcuts, no fast lanes, to success. The road is difficult and frustrating and if it’s any better for you, count your blessings. Having said that, I want to address different points one at a time.
They were good about phone calls until I actually sent the media kits. No one even acknowledged with a form post card receiving my materials.
They don’t have time to. I suppose each magazine would need a full time staff of elves to acknowledge requests of all media kits, look books, line sheets and unsolicited samples. If we did have elf labor in this country, I suppose they could. But assistants need to be paid real wages and it would cost an incredible amount of money to hire people to do such. Magazine offices are literally swamped with such info. Even if you send a form postcard, an editorial assistant might spend all day opening, reviewing, sorting and filing media kits, asking for acknowledgment can easily mean extra hours of someone’s time. It’s not standard, and even though you want it, even though you need the acknowledgment, chances are that you won’t get it.
Furthermore, to expect a NY magazine to send someone to “a town far off the fashion radar” to cover an event, is far fetched. Let me give you a tip, even with events that are covered, fashion magazines usually get their pictures from a wire service, they don’t necessarily send a photographer to cover the event. Had you managed to have the fashion show, pay a photographer to cover the event, and sent pictures to the magazines, it would still be far fetched, but then it would be more likely.
If I were you, I would try to get as much local press as possible. Try to get local newspapers and publications to mention the fashion show to get better attendance. I would hire, or barter with, a photographer to take pictures of the show, and send those to local publications (along with a press kit) with the hopes that maybe it would fit in with a story they were running, or maybe they would be interested in doing a special piece on a local designer. In other words, crawl before you walk, walk before you run. If you’re hand-making 42 pieces since January, you aren’t even ready for the type of potential attention that editorial coverage from a publication like that could attract.