Fashion Coordinators

Fashion coordinators, whether employed by retail giants, design firms, or shopping centers, are responsible for promoting fashion trends. The main way to promote fashion is through a fashion show. Depending on the size of the company, coordinators may be responsible for a monthly show or for as many as 50 shows or more a year.

There are different types of fashion shows. Vendor or designer shows arrive at the coordinator's office almost prepackaged. The outfits are already accessorized and are boxed in the order in which the clothes should be shown. Little preparation is needed to produce this show, aside from booking models and setting up a stage. In addition to what fashions are shown, the designer is also in charge of the commentary and backdrops. Vendor shows typically take only a few days to produce. The designer or design firm owns the rights to these fashion shows. Many vendor-type fashion shows take place within the department's sales floor so the public can shop for the clothes as soon as the show ends.

Trend shows are owned by the retailer and are produced by the fashion coordinator and his or her staff. With these shows, coordinators are responsible for putting together outfits and accessories, choosing the choreography and staging, and most importantly, deciding on the message. Every show sends a particular message, or theme, to the audience. For example, what will be important in fashion for the next season? Leather? Wool? Fur? Trend shows are usually produced two or three times a year and scheduled to coincide with the upcoming season. (However, fashions are spotlighted one or two seasons ahead of the calendar year. For example, spring/summer fashions will be shown in the fall/winter months.) It often takes a few weeks or a month to put together a trend show.

Trend shows have important public relations value. Oftentimes a sponsor will give additional support to help a retail store in the show's production. Tickets to the show may be sold to the public, and proceeds from the fashion show may be donated to charity. This not only helps promote upcoming fashion lines, but it also highlights the store's interest in supporting worthy causes and provides the sponsor with publicity.

There are several steps to producing a show, regardless of the scale of the production. First, a budget is set. Then models must be cast to fit the type of clothes. Sometimes as many as 300 models are auditioned before the coordinator selects the final 30 or so to work the trend show. Coordinators often use trusted modeling agents to find the best men, women, or children. Stylists are used to give the models and their clothes a finished look. Hairdressers, makeup artists, and dressers prepare the models before the show and during outfit changes. Production workers find the right music and lighting. The fashion coordinator and assistants are also responsible for the promotion and execution of a fashion show. They send invitations to the public and media and prepare advertising, as well as set up chairs and props and check on other last-minute details.

The fashion coordinator is also responsible for producing fashion shows at other locations besides one retail store. Travel is a large part of this job. In addition to traveling to other store locations, fashion coordinators often travel to meet with designers, many of whom are headquartered in New York. Meeting with famous designers may be intimidating at first, but as the coordinator gains experience these meetings become less nerve racking.

Another important part of a fashion coordinator's job is to help with promotion of a store's fashion lines through television or newspaper and magazine spreads. Oftentimes, local television stations, newspapers, or fashion magazines will request the use of clothing from a store for a particular segment. For example, the TV station may need an outfit for the evening news anchor or the paper may need an outfit for a model in a travel section. The fashion coordinator pulls the appropriate clothing from the sales floor—be it a business suit or cruise wear—then coordinates the outfits with shoes and other accessories and delivers the chosen items to the TV station, newspaper, or magazine offices. After the clothes are returned, the fashion coordinator and his or her staff are responsible for taking the items back to the sales floor and returning them to the racks. The store is given credit by the television station or publication in return for the use of the clothes.

The fashion coordinator's office is part of the marketing side of the fashion industry. Coordinators work alongside trend forecasters, product developers, and planners in promoting current fashion trends, as well as predicting what the public will desire in fashion for the future.

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