Thursday, May 14, 2009

About Look Books & Line Sheets

What is a look book?
A look book is a catalog designed to show your product, its fit and feel, and to reinforce your brand image. Look books should be straightforward and should show your product on a model so that editors and customers can see the proportion of the product and how it fits.

Here are examples of successful look book images:

What is a line sheet?
A line sheet is a document that details your line for prospective buyers. It should contain the following:

• Sketches or clear photos of the styles included in your collection. Most line sheets use sketches or computer generated graphics. Show both the back and front of the garment, especially if there are important details on the back.
• Style numbers
• Wholesale prices and suggested retail prices
• Color and fabric information. Include color swatches so that there is no confusion about what the color looks like.
• Season in which the collection is being sold (for instance, Fall 2009)
• Delivery dates and order cut off dates. Show the earliest delivery on page one and the latest on the final page.
• Order minimums (i.e. 4 pcs per style; $250 per order)
• Company, PR and sales rep contact information
• Page Numbers

Here's an example of a successful line sheet:

Look books and line sheets are important image building tools for your business and should be distributed to editors as well as potential wholesale customers.

Look books and line sheets must always have page numbers and style numbers. When editors contact you to request a look or style, it is important that they are able to identify them easily. Describing a piece is much more difficult than saying “the look on page 4.”

Send out look books and line sheets seasonally. Remember that magazines work at least 3 months out, so send Fall line sheets in March and Spring line sheets in October whenever possible.

To create a mailing list of editors, stylists and costume designers, visit Subscribers may build their own lists of updated contact information and print mailing labels directly from the site. So easy!

You Have Press Coverage! What to do with it.

So, you’ve gotten some key product features in the media and some nice sales to accompany them. Now what? Well, you can continue to use your press to help you earn even more money. A few ideas:

• Post press on your website
• When you get new press, email it to your customer list to generate interest and excitement
• Hang press in your booth at trade shows to attract buyers
• Assemble a press book to take with you to sales meetings or to give to your showroom
• Create booklets or post cards showing your press placements and send them to stores so that they can show them to customers and generate sales

Here's an example of a successful press post card from beauty brand, colorescience:

Setting Up Meetings with Editors and Stylists

Meetings are an ideal way to get attention for your product. If you are not based in New York, schedule regular trips to meet with editors and show them new designs. Email or call the editor to set up the meeting.

The Conde Nast building houses titles like Vogue and Lucky.

Try something like:

“Hi Jessica. I will be in New York next week doing deskside* meetings to show my collection of luxury fashion jewelry sold in upscale boutiques like Madison, Fred Segal and Henri Bendel. I’d love to stop in for a quick 15-minute meeting to show you new product and to drop off some line sheets and look books. I have an opening Tuesday at 10am. Would that work for you? I look forward to seeing you soon.”

*Note: a “deskside” meeting or appointment is a meeting conducted at the editor’s office. At some magazines you will meet at the editor’s desk, at others, like most Conde Nast titles, you will meet in the magazine’s lobby area. At some magazines you will sit in a conference room.

Once you have set up the meeting, send a reminder email to the editor the day before your meeting. Make sure to include your cell phone number in case the editor needs to reschedule. Arrive at least 15 minutes early for your meeting so that you have time to check in with security and ride the elevator to the appropriate floor. Be sure to bring your driver's license for security check in, product samples, look books, line sheets, business cards, extra samples in case the editor wants to pull pieces for stories they are working on that day, pen and paper to record borrowed samples, and a gift for the editor if you’d like them to have something from the collection.

After the meeting send a follow up letter or email thanking them for taking the time to meet with you. You might write something like:

“Dear Amy, You were so sweet to take the time to meet with me this morning. Thank you for looking over my collection of jewelry and for pulling some styles for your upcoming story on antiqued gold. I look forward to working with you again soon. I hope you enjoy the bracelet! Best, Jamie”

Find editor names, phone numbers and email addresses at

Tips for Writing the Perfect Press Release

Press releases should be catchy, exciting and relevant. Begin by tailoring your release to your audience. For instance, a release sent to a writer at Vogue should sound luxe and should appeal to a style-savvy, high-end reader. A release sent to a writer at Women’s Wear Daily should include a business or trend angle. A release sent to US Weekly should focus on celebrity.

If you write a great press release, the writer you send it to shouldn’t have to alter it much or at all in order to put it into their publication. You know you’ve done your job well if you see own your words in print!

A few hints and tips:
1) Write the press release on your company letterhead
2) Keep the release to under one page whenever possible
3) Your writing should be quick, lively and to the point
4) The first paragraph should be concise and draw the reader in with catchy text. The subsequent paragraphs can add more detail and explanation.
5) The final paragraph should include company information and the website address

Monday, May 4, 2009

When It’s Time to Change Tactics

If you don’t receive a response from an editor after several follow up calls and emails, it’s time for one of two things to happen:

1) Assess the situation. Is your product really right for this publication? If not, your time will be better spent putting energy into publications that are a better fit for your product.

2) It’s time for a new game plan. Maybe the way you’ve been pitching your product isn’t resonating with an editor. Can you tie it into a timely news story? Can you pitch another editor at the magazine that covers different angles? Can you think of another way to position the pitch that might be a better fit for the magazine? Can you position it to fit into a specific section of the magazine? You could even try asking the editor how they think your product would best fit into the magazine and use his/her advice to position yourself differently.

Following Up

Editors, stylists and producers are busy people. Just think of all of the brands competing for their time and attention. Plus, they still have to do their jobs. If you don’t receive a response right away, simply follow up. We like to make spreadsheets of target publications, names of editors, phone numbers and email addresses and a column for the dates and times we’ve contacted them. That way we can contact them often without overwhelming or overlooking. Sometimes it’s just a case of being the “squeaky wheel.”

Sample Fields for Contact Spreadsheet:

  • Publication
  • Editor First Name
  • Editor Last Name
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Dates Contacted/Notes

Sample Emails to Editors

Emails to editors should always be friendly, conversational and to the point.

For national fashion magazines:

Hi (editor first name),

How are you? I wanted to check in to see what you were working on this week. I design a collection of (describe product) and would love to send over samples for your consideration. You can view my collection at (website) and I’ve also attached a few images of some of our most popular new styles; the price points range from $xx to $xxx. The collection is available at Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and other high-end boutiques throughout the US.

Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to have us send over. I look forward to working with you.

(your name)

For weekly magazines:

Hi (editor first name),

How are you? I wanted to check in to see what you were working on this week. I design a collection of clothing worn by celebrities like Lauren Conrad, Lindsay Lohan and Julia Roberts and would love to send over samples for your consideration. You can view my collection at (website) and I’ve also attached a few recent images of celebrities in our product; the price points range from $xx to $xxx. The collection is available at Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and other high-end boutiques throughout the US.

Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to have us send over. I look forward to working with you.

(your name)

*Note: the weekly magazines want celebrity angles. Be sure to include recent information on celebrity wardrobing successes in any correspondence with them!

For regional magazines:

Hi (editor first name),

I am a locally based designer of (describe product) and would love to set up a time to show you my collection. I am available on Thursday of this week at 10 or 12 and on Friday any time in the afternoon.

Here’s a bit of background about my brand. My clothing is inspired by (talk about the idea behind your brand) and appeals to (describe customer). We currently sell locally at (name stores in the city/state) and in other boutiques nationwide like (name other well known stores).

You can view my collection at (website); the price points range from $xx to $xxx. I’ve attached a few images of some of our most popular new styles as well as a press release about the collection (also pasted below). I look forward to meeting you soon and to working with you often.

(your name)

Scripts for Editorial or Stylist Outreach Calls

To introduce your brand and inquire about sending samples:

“Hi this is (fist name) calling from (company name). I’ve just launched my collection of (kind of product) and I think my designs would be a perfect fit for (magazine name). Your readers will love our (describe product and why it is interesting for the reader). What are you working on right now? I’d love to send over some samples for consideration.”

To ask for sample returns:

“Hi, this is (first name) from (company name). I sent samples to you on (date) and wondered when they would be returned. I need to have them back by (date) for an important sales meeting. Please send them to (address) and email a tracking number to (email address). Thank you!”

To pitch a story about your brand to a writer:

“Hi this is (fist name) calling from (company name). My Chicago-based collection of luxury handbags would be perfect fit for (magazine name)’s (name of section) section. Each bag is hand crafted using fabric from the suits of famous Chicago mobsters and lined with silk from dresses worn by Marilyn Monroe (this sentence is your argument for why you appeal specifically to this magazine and reader). They are unique and the $2000 price point will appeal to (magazine name)’s reader. We also have a diffusion collection priced between $200 and $500. I’ll send along an email with a press release and backgrounder on the collection. Would you like for me to send some samples to you for review as well?”

What Happens When Your Product is Photographed or Broadcast

Once your product has been shot, you’ll receive a call or email from a fashion assistant or credits editor with a Credit Request. A Credit Request asks for the following information:

• Correct spelling of brand name
• Description of item
• What it is made of (fabric content for clothing, metal or stones for jewelry, etc…)
• Retail Price
• Where to buy it (your branded website or a store that carries a lot of stock)
• When it will be in stores

*Hint: help your retailers do well with your brand by offering them credits in magazines. For instance, if is your largest retailer, be sure to list them in the “Where to buy it” section. Before sending in the Credit Request, ask the store what price they are selling the item for. Always call the store you credit and let them know that you’ve given them some press. Sell more product by suggesting that they order additional pieces of that style to cover demand from the magazine’s readers. You also might try calling an account you’d like to sell to and offer them a credit in a major magazine if they order some pieces from your collection.

You might say:
“Hi, this is Joann from XYZ tees. US Weekly just shot our pink short sleeve scoop neck tee for their March 15th issue. We think our product would be an excellent fit for your store and customer and we wanted to offer you the credit in US if you would order a few pieces from the collection. Our order minimum is $500.”

Editorial Stylists
If a freelance editorial stylist uses your designs for a magazine shoot you will be contacted by a fashion assistant or credits editor to obtain credit information.

Celebrity Stylists
Oftentimes stylists will call you when they’ve used your designs to let you know who they’ve put them on and what fabulous red carpet event that celebrity will be attending. However, oftentimes they won’t. It’s best to ask the stylist what they plan to use the samples when they borrow them, then monitor and to see if you can find photos of celebrities in your designs. Also monitor magazine format entertainment shows like Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood for celebrity and red carpet event coverage.

When product is highlighted on television, you will hear from a producer prior to airing to confirm purchase information. You can oftentimes ask the producer for a DVD or video clip of the show. If they are not able to send one, contact a service like VMS (Video Monitoring Service to purchase a copy of the segment.

Sample Returns: How to Get Your Products Back

How to get samples back:

1) If you have not received your samples back by the expected date, send an email to the editor and ask when to expect them. Many editors do not personally handle shipping returns, but have a staff of interns and a “Closet Assistant” who take care of them so they may pass you along to someone else when you inquire about returns.

2) Sometimes shoot dates change and editors ask to keep samples a bit longer. This typically means that they are interested in including your designs in the shoot and it is a good idea to let them hold onto them. If you need the samples back it’s alright to ask them to return them anyway, but you will risk not being included in the story and complicating the editor’s job.

3) Magazines deal with thousands of samples from hundreds of brands, so every once in a while a sample will get lost. If this happens, the magazine is responsible for the cost and you can send them an invoice for the wholesale price of the piece or pieces. Often designers will not go to the trouble to do this and will just count the price of the lost piece as a marketing expense.

4) Editors and stylists are very busy and sometimes it takes longer than expected for them to respond to return requests. Be nice but persistent and contact them via email and phone in order to get your pieces back.

A note to beauty brands: beauty products are generally sent to editors for trial and use. For this reason they are typically not returned. The exception would be makeup bags or other similar beauty accessories.

Sample Requests: How to Lend Product to the Media

What is a sample request?
A sample request is an email or phone call received from a magazine editor, writer, producer or stylist asking to borrow your product for a photo shoot, taping or celebrity wardrobing.

About sending samples:
Editors, producers and stylists will want to see product first-hand, and in most cases will want to have it photographed by their own contracted photographers to give the visuals in the magazine a uniform feeling. Some publications, mostly regional and online publications, will require you to provide 300 dpi digital images.

When I send out samples, will I get them back?
Yes. When magazines ask for samples they are borrowing them and will return them to you following the shoot. Some regional magazines specify that they do not return samples. You can choose to let them keep the items and call it a marketing expense or you can opt not to work with such publications.

How to lend samples:
1) Ask for a shipping number. Almost all magazines will give you a UPS, DHL or Fed-ex number to use to send them samples so that you don’t have to pay for it. There are a few exceptions, Bridal Guide and WWD among them, who will ask you to pay to ship the product to them; they will pay for the return shipping.

2) Many times editors will call or email with requests for specific styles from your line but often you will receive a general, mass request with information about the story/stories and the date when samples will need to arrive. Study the request or the list of stories carefully. Which styles best fit the story? Never send items that don’t fit with the story theme, even if you want the editor to see them. It is better to include a look book or line sheet or email them an image of something they might like but that doesn’t work with their current assignment. Making more work for them by sending extra samples will dissuade editors from calling you for product in the future.

An example of a mass email sample request:

Hi Everyone,

Hope all is well. I am now beginning to work on 5280's July fashion page
which will begin women's fall 2007 coverage.

The trend for the month is menswear-inspired pieces and fabrics. So, boyish
looks like collegiate / military / safari jackets, coats, and pants; also
fabrications like tweed and plaids. As always, items need to be available
in the Colorado region. Please forward all ideas by this Friday and I'll
begin arranging shoot details by next Monday, May 7. Thanks so much!


3) Make a Sample Invoice. A Sample Invoice is a written record of what you send out to an editor or stylist. You should retain a copy for your records so that you can check in samples when they are returned and ensure that everything has come back. One copy should be shipped in the box with the samples so that the magazine, stylist or producer knows what you’ve sent and where to return your product. Your sample invoice should include:

• Your brand name
• Your press contact name and contact information. If you are a small brand this is probably the owner or designer. If you have an in-house publicist or an external agency, this will be their contact information
• The address where the samples should be returned
• The expected date of the return. If the magazine does not give you this information, record the return date as one week after the shoot date. For overseas shoots allow a few extra days.
• The editor, stylist or producer’s name
• The magazine, event or television show name
• The name of the story or event
• A list of the samples you are sending including style numbers, retail pricing and product descriptions

4) Ship samples on time. Editors are on deadline and typically need samples immediately. Fashion editors usually have a “run through” with senior editors prior to the shoot. The run through might happen the day before the shoot or several days before. For the run through they will have selected full “looks” (i.e. outfits) with accompanying accessories and shoes for review and approval. If you are asked to send samples in time for the run through, it is crucial that you get them there promptly.

Lending to Stylists
When you lend to freelance stylists for editorial shoots, ask for a Letter of Responsibility. This is a letter issued by the stylist’s employer (i.e. a magazine) that says that they are taking full responsibility for your samples and their return and that they will compensate you for loss or damage to the goods. It also confirms that the stylist has officially been hired by that magazine and ensures that the person borrowing your goods is not a thief impersonating a stylist.


1234 X STREET. NEW YORK. NY 10013

TEL. 212 222 1192 FAX. 212 222 1195

Stylist Authority for John K. Stylist

August 2nd, 2009

To Whom It May Concern:

This is to confirm that stylist, John K. Stylist, has Fashion Magazine's full authority to pull clothing and accessories for use in Fashion Magazine. He is selecting samples for Fashion’s September issue, for a Cover shoot featuring Rachel A. Celebrity which will be shot August 8th 2009 in Los Angeles by photographer Jennifer P. Photographer. By doing so, Fashion Inc., d/b/a Fashion Magazine, assumes full responsibility for the safekeeping and prompt return of all items loaned. Furthermore this confirms that all boutiques and designers will be fully credited in stories appearing in Fashion Magazine.

Should you have any questions concerning this, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Sincerely yours,
Amy R. Editor
Fashion Magazine
Fashion Director
212 222 1192

Lending fine jewelry and timepieces:
When lending expensive fine jewelry or timepieces, it’s a good idea to have the magazine or stylist provide proof of insurance. You will also want to have your lawyer draw up a contract stating clearly that the magazine is responsible for the items and for their return.

* One LA stylist famously lost over $1 million worth of Harry Winston diamonds at a large arena! They were never found.

What if an editor, celebrity or stylist loves my designs and wants to buy something?
Well then, congratulations! If an editor, celebrity or stylist wants to purchase your designs you’re moving in the right direction. It’s also in your best interest to have influential stylemakers like these wearing your designs. It’s the best sort of advertising!

Companies have different ways of handling this. Here are a few of the most popular:

1) Offer a discount. These typically range from wholesale to 40% off the retail price.

2) Offer the product for free, as your gift. Newspaper editors generally cannot receive gifts but it’s par for the course with fashion magazines, stylists and celebrities. When gifting to celebrities it’s often a good idea to ask the stylist to photograph the celebrity in the item in exchange for giving it to them gratis. Either let them keep what you’ve sent them or wrap a new one beautifully and send it with a handwritten note on lovely stationery thanking them for their support of your brand.

Sample Gift Note:

Dear Emily,
We are so pleased that you love our gold cuff bracelet. Enclosed is one for you to wear and enjoy. Thank you for your support of (brand name).
Best regards,

Decoding Editorial Job Titles & Responsibilities

One of the most confusing things about publicizing your own brand is figuring out who to contact at a magazine, newspaper or online publication. This quick guide makes it easy to determine who to contact for what, and will send you on your way to successful product placements and reviews.

1) The first step is to look at the publication's masthead. The masthead can be found within the first few pages of a magazine, somewhere near the letter from the editor. There are generally two mastheads: the first one you will come across lists editorial staff and the second lists employees on the publishing side. You will want the editorial masthead. It will look something like this:

2) The next step is to think about what you want to accomplish. Much of your success will depend on contacting the right editor. Do you want a product placement (your item shot on a model or as a flat)? Or do you want to secure a write up or review? Once you've determined your goal, go to Step 3 to determine who you should contact.

3) Editorial Titles and Definitions

Fashion Director – generally styles cover shoots and well stories for the magazine. Brainstorms fashion stories/themes for the magazine.

Fashion Editor – styles smaller features in the magazine. Often responsible for shooting “front of book” stories.

Associate/Assistant Fashion Editor – Assists Fashion Director and Fashion Editor on shoots (ie. Steams garments, transports trunks, etc…)

Market Director – generally responsible for keeping advertisers happy and attending events held by advertisers and other important brands.

Fashion/Accessories/Beauty Market Editor – these are the people who are employed to know who has what so that when the Fashion Director says “Let’s do a story on navy blue trapeze dresses,” they know how to find the best ones quickly. Also responsible for attending events and making sure advertisers are represented in the magazine. These are the people you ideally want to meet with when doing desk side* appointments.

Fashion/Accessories/Beauty Assistant – In charge of calling in the items the fashion/accessories Market Editor wants. They are responsible for opening mail, reviewing look books, filing look books, calling in samples and managing interns who do returns. When you need something to be returned this is the person you will talk to.

Fashion/Accessories/Beauty Writer – In charge of writing features and shorter blurbs about trends, products and people. The general rule is that the more senior writers contribute longer stories or have regular columns (i.e. Andre Leon Talley's "Stylefaxer" column in Vogue). A good rule of thumb is to flip through the magazine to determine where your product belongs. Take a look at who is responsible for the content on that particular page and then contact him/her.

*Note: a “deskside” meeting or appointment is a meeting conducted at the editor’s office. At some magazines you will meet at the editor’s desk, at others, like most Conde Nast titles, you will meet in the magazine’s lobby area. At some magazines you will sit in a conference room.