The Academy Awards are known for launching emerging fashion designers. A relatively unknown designer is introduced to millions of people at one single event. Some of the world’s most recognized starlets will be photographed wearing an independent label and we wonder who is going to be the next Elie Saab?
The Beirut-born emerging fashion designer Elie Saab, became a household name when Halle Berry walked out on the Oscar’s red-carpet in the now world-famous maroon dress, in 2002. It is estimated that Saab received the equivalent of $25 million worth of publicity. She soon after joined the ranks of Chanel and Dior (read full article from Business Mirror here).
But what if you are an accessories designer? Even better! You have the opportunity to give a taste of your products to tens of A-listers in their “freebie” gifts. And that is exactly what Ms. Lauren Merkin a handbag designer from New York did. She spent more than $30,000 to have her handbags showcased in the “freebies” lounge at the Independent Spirit Awards the day before the Oscars. She also created a special red-carpet collection, hoping that some starlets will pick her handbags for the actual Awards ceremony. This is a high price to pay for a small business owner however the exposure is definitely worth it. Now Ms. Merkin’s handbags are sold internationally and have been favored by comedian Sarah Silverman, “Desperate Housewives” star Nicollette Sheridan and Jessica Simpson.
A story that recently drew my attention came from emerging Canadian jewelry designer Tiffany Haziza of Buddha & the Raven Studios. In 2011 she had the opportunity of having one of her products (a pearl and Swarovski crystals necklace) offered in the gift bags at the Academy Awards in 2011. Now she is running a successful business, receives custom orders from TV stars and sales internationally.
Indeed, the Academy Awards and other red carpet events are the catalyst that many emerging designers need to take their businesses further. Of course, you need a bit of good luck and a couple of connections to get you in, so start networking early. Build strong relationships with publicists and celebrity stylists and get to know the stars and what they are likely to wear at a red carpet event. Also, make sure you budget accordingly, you need to create a special collection just for that event and consider that a marketing expense.