Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Fashion Industry Insider by Nicky Harris

I suspended the Fashion Police last week as I along with half the country was snowed in. Venturing out to forage for provisions amounted to donning my hill walking gear. Boots that have taken me hundreds of kilometres across three continents. Boots that clung to wet rocks, boots that sank into deep wet bogs in the Wicklow hills and the same boots that were washed away in a tidal river (along with me attached) in Brazil last year! Needless to say the top half was covered in several layers of thermal and hiking gear. Not a pretty sight I agree, but boy did I care? Not a jot.

Back in the showroom for the first time after a few days the less than glamerous side of the life of a Fashion Agent was the order of the day. Writing envelopes (lots of them) sorting samples and pricing them. Oh and cutting off labels from tights to bring to the Charity shop.

Last week in New York in a lane behind H&M on 34th st in Manhattan lots and lots of unwanted clothes were being sorted. Unfortunately the clothes had been slashed as to make them totally unwearable. Fingers were cut off gloves. Arms off dresses. Legs off trousers… You get the picture. These clothes weren’t for the Charity Shops nearby they were for the garbage collectors. Within minutes the story was on- line in the NY Times, minutes later Twitterville was all a-Tweet. I was one of those Tweeters (I’m addicted since I got my iPhone) and the story made the second top trending Twitter subject within hours. People were tweeting for boycotts and protests against H&M. Not good PR at all. What was needed was very swift damage control. It took H&M one whole day to respond and apologise stating that it was not company policy and that they were treating the matter very seriously indeed. Tweeters responded in kind and are a forgiving lot.

The moral of the story. If you are a retailer embrace Social Media and respond immediately to any negative publicity. Old Media may tell the story the outcome may very well depend on Facebook, Bloggers and Twitter.

Have a good week ahead.. Nicky

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