Published on December 13, 2023, 6:12 p.m.
by Caroline Raley.
Fashion public relations brings together creativity and communication, turning clothes into stories that connect with everyone’s niche. Fashion PR is defined as “the promotion of clothing and accessory brands through earned media channels.” While this seems simple enough, it is one of the most intense industries to work in.
As Martina Topić, associate professor in fashion PR at The University of Alabama and owner of CommsWomen.uk, noted, “It isn’t always boozy lunches and events; it is hard work.”
Significance of PR in fashion
Sharon Brigden, director at SLB Public Relations Ltd., who works in the fashion and beauty industries in the United Kingdom, shared her thoughts on how crucial PR is in this industry. Brigden used Anna Wintour’s role at the Met Gala as an example of amazing fashion PR. “Wintour puts young, emerging designers on the tables with hugely influential people. That’s PR. That’s networking, and it is crucial,” said Brigden.
According to Glam Observer, responsibilities of those who work in fashion PR include writing press releases, pitching stories, organizing events, packing PR boxes and coordinating press days.
“It is working very closely with an individual or brand to bring their vision to the public, but no day is the same,” Brigden explained. Whether it is speaking with the press or brand ambassadors, a fashion PR professional’s goal is to tell the right story for their client.
Topić emphasized the importance of knowing the history of fashion styles and the industry itself. “In many ways, working in fashion PR is actually harder than other forms of PR because you are expected to have the industry knowledge,” she asserted. “That would not be expected for an industry like health care.”
According to Spell Brand, a publicity strategy is “the strategic management function that helps an organization communicate, establish and maintain communication with the public.” Fashion is a broad industry with many different categories from luxury to budget.
Public relations professionals working in fashion must understand the designer they are working for and what exact goals are trying to be achieved. Brigden stated, “You can’t do anything until you establish your audiences.” After this step, you can generate story ideas and start working closely with the media, which could be either social media or press magazines.
Topić said, “Crisis management is a big part of fashion PR.” The most recent issue is climate change and sustainability. For example, PrettyLittleThing, a fast-fashion company, fell into crisis after cancerous chemicals were found in their clothes.Since then, the brand has received backlash for other problematic practices like not paying employees livable wages.
According to Brigden, “Fashion is one of the biggest polluters in the world. Handling situations like these do not happen overnight but come in small steps. You need to be authentic in your voice, and truthful about what your brand is doing to change things.”
Keeping up with the trends
Fashion’s ever-evolving landscape demands a proactive approach to staying ahead. Adapting to emerging trends, consumer preferences and technological advancements is imperative. As Brigden noted, “Fashion is always at least a year ahead.”
Brigden emphasized that PR professionals are always working on a basis that they are six months ahead of what is going to happen in the fashion industry. Whether it is a new material or a popular color on the rise, staying ahead involves a balance between embracing change and preserving brand identity.
Influencers have become pivotal players in shaping consumer behavior within the fashion industry. “Today’s consumers, especially younger consumers, want more authenticity,” Brigden explained. “They want to know someone is wearing something because they actually like it.”
Collaborating with influencers that align with a brand’s values and have genuine connections with its audience holds significance. “The days of choosing somebody because they have a huge following have gone,” said Brigden. Leveraging influencer partnerships effectively involves a strategic understanding of the influencer’s reach and resonance among target demographics.
The future and artificial intelligence
Brigden highlighted that AI’s potential impact on design, consumer behavior analysis and personalized experiences is immense. From predictive analytics to personalized recommendations, AI offers a spectrum of possibilities in revolutionizing how fashion brands interact with consumers. However, finding a balance between technological innovation and maintaining human connection remains pivotal for the industry’s future.
“AI will never be able to cut your hair, but it will be able to dress you,” asserted Brigden. However, she emphasized a fundamental human desire for authenticity and tangible experiences. She envisions a future where AI coexists with the appreciation for genuine, real-world connections and experiences, recognizing the unparalleled value of authenticity amidst the rapid pace of technological advancements in fashion production.
Best practices in fashion PR are a testament to dedication and adaptability, requiring a relentless commitment to continuous learning and growth. As highlighted by industry veterans, the field is undeniably tough and fiercely competitive, demanding individuals to consistently prove themselves.
Sharon Brigden’s advice resonates profoundly, urging aspirants to immerse themselves fully in the world of fashion by absorbing every piece of information available — reading, watching and listening to everything within reach.
This learning journey is not merely about accumulation, but is fueled by an inherent eagerness and enthusiasm. It’s a realm that demands passion; one has to genuinely love the craft to thrive within it.
Effective communication skills, fortified networks and a proactive crisis-management approaches remain foundational. Yet, the essence lies in authenticity, forging genuine connections and articulating a brand’s distinctive narrative amidst the ever-evolving dynamics of this vibrant industry.