Accolades from the media, though flattering to the designer, do not guarantee commercial success


Trying to decide whether to concentrate on growing their label’s sales network, or strengthen the brand’s PR presence, fashion entrepreneurs often find themselves at the crossroads. At first sight, the whole dilemma seems to be a classic “Catch-22” situation. But is it?


It’s no secret that buyers are often more willing to invest in collections that already have some recognition in the media and credibility with the market. And that’s where good PR comes in handy.


A fashion publicist's job is to make sure that your brand has credibility among consumers, thus fueling sales (image via

Creating, sending out and following up on press releases, building relationships with reporters and editors to line up opportunities for media coverage, making friends with famous stylists to get celebrities to wear your garments, organizing events, setting up appearances and interviews, ensuring runway shows go off without a hitch (that is quite possibly the ultimate fashion industry challenge!) – these are only some of the responsibilities that a professional publicist takes on to make certain that the key message of your brand reaches its target audience and strikes a chord with your potential clientele.


By building positive brand awareness and increasing exposure, quality PR has the capacity to drive sales. As Alison Lowe of Felicities, a London-based PR agency, puts it:


“Public relations can play a critical role in achieving a competitive advantage by, for example, opening new markets, attracting buyers, giving more access to funding and investors, creating a high value and helping businesses grow.”


On the other hand, when brands care about gaining recognition more than they do about the business side of fashion, they often find themselves in dire circumstances down the road. Dressing stars, supporting fundraising events, attending glamorous parties, and receiving accolades from popular bloggers does not guarantee that retailers will pick up your line. Unless, of course, it meets buyers’ three major criteria.


The opinion of the press can be misleading, guiding brands away from what's really important


#1 – Your line has to be relevant to the market. You must provide aesthetic continuity, as well as listen to consumers and respond to their needs.


#2 –  You have to produce and deliver a high quality product, and be consistent in doing so.


#3 – Your label must be able to handle purchase orders – scale production to meet the demand, set up a smooth logistics system, stay on top of marketing to support retailers, etc.


If complying with these industry best practices requires you to hire an additional employee, invest in manufacturing, or buy a new fabric – then by all means do so. Especially if your budget is limited and you’re prompted to choose between strengthening your production base and splurging on PR services (we’re talking $5-10K a month as the current going rate).


Responding to consumers' needs is key to ensuring your brand's longevity

From our experience, investing into expanding the retail distribution network and building a more secure and reliable operation are more worthwhile ways to spend the money, especially as your brand grows, or when it’s breaking into a new market. Only once the cash-flow is solid, should you start thinking of highly targeted and sales-oriented PR activities.


Nevertheless, a shoestring budget doesn’t necessarily mean your label won’t get any exposure or recognition. For one thing, not every brand’s customer is driven by magazine covers and glossy advertising. Quality, not quantity is what you should aim for in propelling your PR efforts. So do direct your label’s communications at your niche audience using the media channels that offer maximum exposure and conversion. Also, consider creative (i.e. less costly or even free) ways to get your brand’s message across. For example, be active, approachable, and friendly on the social media.


The truth is: commercial success depends on your ability to create a product that your target customer won’t be able to resist, and make buying this item both easy and convenient for your consumers. That way, extending your sales network will fuel brand recognition, naturally attracting excellent PR.


Gary Wassner, a reputed business insider and President of Hilldun, a renowned factoring company, sums it all up perfectly:


“If your product is really good, the PR is going to come by itself. But if the product doesn’t perform, it doesn’t matter how good your press is.”