Wednesday, April 27, 2011

PAUL BRINDLEY CONSULTS LIVE FROM ROSEMOUNT AUSTRALIAN FASHION WEEK – MAY 2ND – 6TH, 2011


I’m off to exciting Sydney Town tonight for the Spring/Summer 2010-11 Rosemount Australian Fashion Week  (RAFW), happening May 2nd – 6th.

RAFW is Australia’s premier fashion industry event that provides a platform for designers to showcase their collections to the world’s most influential media and buyers. RAFW claims the mantle of the Asia Pacific’s stop on the international fashion week circuit joining Paris, Milan, New York and London.

This will be my first time attending RAFW. Having done so many fashion market weeks, runway and trade shows in the States, I’m looking forward to seeing how it is done in my home country – especially when considering Australian vitality and enthusiasm.

The RAFW website describes fashion week as:
a five-day official schedule that includes on-site collection shows held within state-of-the-art collection showrooms, off-site collection shows, The Gallery and The Presentation Suites at The Westin Sydney.“

On-site” is the Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) – at Sydney’s fabulous Circular Quay. If you have never been to Circular Quay, it is one of the most spectacular big city vistas anywhere in the world. With the Sydney Harbor Bridge on your left, the Sydney Opera House on your right, and the unparalleled Sydney Harbor lapping at the quay, you are in the heart of the historic Sydney Cove which many people the world over think is, pound-for-pound, the best city in the world.

The OPT will act as the activity and business hub. I’ll be attending the full daily schedule of runway shows and showcases, both on-site and off-site. I’ll be making contact with designers, manufacturers, sales agents and PR firms. My focus will be on companies that aspire to launch in the very challenging, exciting and lucrative US apparel market.

I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge RAFW for taking action on an important issue facing the fashion industry. I was encouraged to see that on the RAFW website’s Event Information Page it is mostly filled with their HEALTHY WEIGHT AND POSITIVE BODY IMAGE GUIDELINES. I was so impressed by the intention of the guideline that I felt compelled to post it, in full, here:

“RAFW encourages the fashion industry to promote healthy body images through the presentation of and publicity associated with the event. It recognises that the promotion of images of exceedingly thin models on the catwalk may lead to some young Australian women seeing such persons as role models and becoming obsessive about wanting to emulate these images. It is understood that there have been reported links with a variety of eating disorders associated with this scenario around the world.

Designers participating in RAFW are responsible for casting models for their individual shows. RAFW is responsible for casting models for all group shows and any special events also in consultation with designers.

RAFW does not currently see the need to impose strict rules on designers regarding the casting of models at the event in relation to imposing body mass indexes (BMI), or any other forms of body measurement. There has been very little cause for concern regarding this issue in the history of RAFW. Additionally, the vast majority of models appearing at RAFW are Australian who naturally tend towards having higher BMIs given a range of environmental factors. We are also fortunate, given the professional nature of modelling agencies in Australia, who have a strict code of self regulation in respect to the care and governance of the models they represent.

Given the current media speculation on this image issue and by recognising that the promotion of unnaturally or extraordinarily thin models may be harmful to young Australian women, RAFW feels that it is necessary to reinforce to designers, model agencies and industry some sensible self regulating guidelines to avoid any unnecessary situations occurring. These are;

Modelling agencies will be briefed not to send to RAFW designer show castings, for either individual, group or special events, any models who in their professional opinion would be considered to be unnaturally or extraordinarily thin or suspected of having an eating disorder. This statement purely serves to reinforce the current professional practice of Australian modelling agencies.

Designers should be mindful when casting for RAFW shows that there are links between the promotion of unnatural or extraordinarily thin models and eating disorders in young women and to ensure that while healthy, naturally slim models are the industry standard, that extraordinarily thin models are not cast.

To avoid sensationalising body image on the catwalks of RAFW, RAFW encourages all media editors to act responsibly by not publishing unflattering or unfortunate images of models that might be captured despite the best efforts of model agencies, designers and RAFW to present models with positive body images. It is not uncommon for individual pictures to incorrectly portray a model’s body type and publication of these images may contribute negatively to the situation RAFW and the industry are trying to improve.

RAFW only has jurisdiction over group show and special event casting and will not cast unnaturally or extraordinarily thin models for these shows.

RAFW has no jurisdiction over models appearing in individual designer shows and encourages all designers and their agents to adhere to the self regulating guidelines outlined above.”

The US fashion industry and media could take a few pages from RAFW. I feel good about being part of an event that is trying to take a stand on an important issue that has caused so many women to have body image problems, doubt their self-worth, all based on unrealistic and unhealthy comparisons. Well-done RAFW!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

THE FACEBOOK RULEBOOK – BUSINESS PAGES VS. PERSONAL PROFILES

There’s no doubt that it’s tempting when setting up a Facebook business page or group to take the easy way and use a personal profile. But don’t do it! Because if Facebook cracks down you will lose your page and all of the work that you put into building it. Plus, there are some good reasons for doing the work of converting Friends to Fans.

The Facebook Rule on Page Creation reads:
Profiles represent individuals and must be held under an individual name, while Pages allow an organization, business, celebrity, or band to maintain a professional presence on Facebook. You may only create Facebook Pages to represent real organizations of which you are an authorized representative.

Having seen an increasing amount of businesses using personal profiles as their company page as well as getting annoyed at people taking the easy way out, I wanted to find out why the practice has become so prevalent. I have been living under the above assumption that personal profiles are meant for real people and business fan pages are designed for companies that offer business-focused analytical tools that you aren’t on a personal profile.

Have I been living in another social media universe?  One where profiles are for individuals and pages are for businesses? Do I have it all wrong? Profiles and pages have different features and different uses. The most obvious examples:
  • Businesses are only allowed to open pages. A business that opens a profile page is in direct violation of Facebook terms.  You would be falsifying the record to open it otherwise.
  • Business pages allow other users to become fans by just clicking a button, but access to the individual profile pages is limited. You have to have a friend request approved to have access to the profile page.
  • Business pages do not allow the ability to invite friends, so you cannot maintain a friends list - only maintain a fan lisT.
OK, so I have the rules right - profiles ARE for people and pages are for businesses.

Good, so then my question is: What are the benefits using a personal profile for business? It’s got to be because it feels like you can collect followers easily. Instead of doing the work it takes to promote your business page to friends and converting them to fans, they can land right where you want them. But that’s where the advantage ends. Save yourself the massive headache later by creating a business page now.

Page Fans vs. Profile Friends
The big reason here is that there is a limit of 5,000 friends to a profile. You can have as many fans as you can get on your business page. When you reach 5,000 friends on your profile, you’ll have to stop there or set-up a second false personal profile.

Search Engine Optimization
You can optimize your business page for search engines because search engines index fan pages only. With the ever-increasing importance of SEO marketing, you want as many people as possible to be able to find you online under your business name.

Many Fan Pages vs. One Profile
You can have multiple fan pages, but only one personal profile. This is important for people who are entrepreneurs and want to promote their various businesses and/or groups.
Remember that you can still connect with people on a business level through your personal profile. Since people like to know the person behind the business, this is a good way to connect with them.  It’s also a great way to create your personal brand – become an expert in your field, the blogger of record, the mavens’ maven, the champion networker, etc.

Analytics, Apps & Functionality
For fan page administrators, Facebook analytics allow you to pull reports on how well the page is doing. The analytics allows the administrator to see from where the traffic is coming, the total number of post views, and much more.
With a fan page the company can create custom tabs or apps for promotions and business information. You also have option to easily customize and implement a Facebook “Like” button for the business’ web site.  And, with Facebook’s latest fan page update, administrators can now use a fan page just like a personal profile and have the ability to post on other walls.

The Facebook Police
Remember that the main reason to use fan pages for businesses is that it is Facebook law. If the FB cops ever crackdown on the use of personal profiles, you are in danger of losing it all. Not only will you lose all your friends, contacts and content, they may bar you from setting up a personal profile and legitimate business pages.

Facebook is currently one of the critical platforms in the evolution of business communication, marketing, product promotion, PR, and Customer Relationship Management. If you have a business, you need to be fully involved. And the Facebook Rulebook is pretty clear on what it takes to have a presence in its universe.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

DESIGNERS & AGENTS SHOW AT LOS ANGELES FASHION MARKET WEEK – MARCH 2011

The downtown Los Angeles Fashion District was buzzing again recently for the Los Angeles Fashion Market Week. Commonly known as LA Market, it’s held five times a year in January, March, June, August and October. This recent LA Market showcased LA’s first look at designers’ Fall Collections.

LA Market week is when the business of fashion happens in the wholesale showrooms and trade shows of the main wholesale centers: the California Market Center, the New Mart, the Cooper Design Space, and other venues in the downtown LA Fashion District.

Buyers come from all over the country determined to stay within their budget as they buy what’s hot, pass on what’s not, and perhaps gamble on some possibilities. Most buyers who want to stay in business know what works for their customer, and what to gamble on to freshen up their floors. They stock up accordingly. Most are playing it safe – rarely buying out of their comfort zone – due to this never ending recession that has supposedly ended.

The most sought-after contemporary showrooms are found in the New Mart. The New Mart is where women’s contemporary buyers expect to spend most of their time. Each LA Market you’ll find the Designers and Agents Showcase on the usually vacant 3rd Floor.

Known as the D&A Show, it describes itself as:
“an independent, international trade fair for collections and retailers who define  the cutting edge in fashion and life style. Identifying emerging talent and creating an intimate, synergistic environment that fosters relationships between designers and buyers, each of D&A’s shows in Los Angeles and New York (which typically attract 3,000 retail and media visitors) are pre-edited, art-directed, and merchandised to create a sense of camaraderie and discovery.”

All of which means, it is the hip and happening place to buy and sell…and I would agree.

Why exhibit at D&A? Maybe you have a showroom in New York but you sell to the west coast and want to be at the show for your west coast buyers; maybe you have a corporate sales force and want to show in LA; maybe you are an emerging designer without independent sales representation and need to get your product in front of the right buyers; or maybe you are in a showroom in LA but like the exposure and attention you get at D&A.

I first attended the D&A Show about 10 years ago. I was immediately struck by the energy in the space compared to the corridors of the building upstairs and in the other buildings. They can cram 100+ 10’x10’ booths into the space. When it is this full there is a vibe that says, “this is the place to be.”

The recent D&A Show had 95 booths with the usual eclectic mix of fashion forward women’s ready-to-wear and accessories.

Some of the highlights and notable trends were:
  • Robin’s Jeans. This is a huge line of men’s and women’s denim founded and designed by the founder of Hudson Jeans, Robin Chretien. Robin is a real groover, and so is his collection.
  • The sexy, sophisticated and chic Ticci Tonetto, owned by the sophisticated Neglia Tonetto. Gisela Marin at Nyeli represents the collection. This beautiful collection has been around for at least 10 years and it is worth a look.
  • The Japanese-made US eyewear collection, Dita. Their vintage-inspired frames, which are apparently popular with celebs, are made from titanium, 18K gold and white gold, and Japanese zyl acetates.
  • The fun, colorful Caroline K is inspired by the indigenous designs of Latin America. If you have ever spent any time in Guatemala you will recognize the colors, patterns, fabrics, embroidery, and pleating in the ponchos, legging, skirts, dresses, tops, and jackets. Caroline K is a real contemporary eye-catcher.
  • Dolce Vita showcased their current 70’s trend footwear. Espadrilles, wedges, boots, sandals, and heels in suedes and leathers mixed with furs, appliqu├ęs, and buckles.
  • Fluxus designed by Jeffrey Sebelia, the Project Runway Season 3 winner. Though it didn’t impress me as much as it did at MAGIC. It didn’t seem to have the same color and life.
  • And what I thought was the highlight of the show – Hazel Brown. Hazel Brown is a beautiful inspired collection in silks, wools, soft leathers, alpaca, and flannels. I loved the delicate hand frayed edging on some of the pieces, the wool jacket with authentic Civil War buttons and the tasteful asymmetry of some of the styling. This is Boho Chic at it’s finest.
The 70’s trends and Boho chic are in full bloom this Spring and it looks like they will continue into Fall. Lots of roushing and texture, mixed media, Native American motif, fur, high heel suede lace-up footwear, scarves, maxi skirts and full leg pants remind me of an updated take on the late 70’s/early 80’s art school look. And some of the pants, jeans, and wide brim floppy hats remind me of what my Mum wore in the 70’s. Who knew she was 30 years ahead of her time?