Events as brands: Paris Fashion Week

I just came back from Paris, where I attended the show of a talented Belgian designer Tim Van Steenbergen and discovered some up-and-coming funky fashion brands.

While experiencing the Paris Fashion Week first-hand, I thought of the importance of such an event which has a very distinctive brand. It is in fact what one could call a meta-brand. In other words, it' s an overarching, superior concept that adds usually positive associations to other brands that want to relate to it.

Think of the Oscars. Taking part in the Oscar ceremony, being nominated for the main prize, and of course, winning the Oscar gives huge credibility to those movie industry participants who are lucky to be part of this event. The Oscars nomination ceremony is a meta brand for all those that can and want to benefit from it.

In a similar way, Paris Fashion Week is another such meta brand that helps participating brands propel to the fame and greater brand awareness. Paris Fashion Week is the fourth in a series of other major semiannual fashion weeks. The "big four" take place in New York, London, Milan and Paris.  Fashion collections are shown several seasons in advance so that fashion buyers have a chance to prepare their stock in a timely manner. For instance, right now in Paris designers are already presenting their Autumn-Winter collection for 2011.

After catwalks are over, designers and their teams quickly prepare show rooms that are visited by fashion buyers from the world's leading boutiques and luxury department stores. Some successful fashion brands manage to ensure their annual turnover just in a matter of a few days, with all of their stock being ordered by a handful of leading fashion boutiques.

In this sense, there are many immediate and tangible benefits from taking part in fashion weeks, as they are a great way to ensure sales for participating brands.

It's only the world's leading fashion houses that present their collections during Paris Fashion Week. But curiously, the spill-over effects of this meta brand can also be beneficial for some much smaller brands and fashion start-ups. It seems that many rent small show rooms and promote this fact within the framework of Paris Fashion Week, even without being able to afford higher level participation in catwalk shows. In this sense,  even without a guarantee of large-scale sales, such small brands can benefit from intangible spill-over effects on their brand awareness from the Paris Fashion Week meta brand.

Also see my funky brand interview with co-founder of a funky-to-be T-shirt brand Lotty Dotty that I discovered during Paris Fashion Week.