Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Five New Designers to Watch Part Four - Lindsay Walsh of standing armed

Head shot by Tiffany May Weiland
Vancouver is a hands down a hotbed of artistic talent.  In fashion there are over 5 schools locally with fashion design and/or merchandising programs graduating more than 200 students each year.  That's a lot of students.  Of those, the figure I heard is that only 5% actually end up designing their own line.  I am not sure where the person who related that number to me came up with it, but I think it might even be lower.

Succeeding in such a competitive market is another story and here is where you separate those who understand what is needed from those who think they can just design a line and the customers will come.  Hard work IS very important, but there are many other steps needed to effectively catch the eye of the media in particular.  One designer I came across about 5-6 months ago who did everything right in my opinion is Lindsay Walsh of standing armed and I couldn't be more impressed.


Walsh launched her second collection in September 2011.  I was so struck by what I saw, I managed to feature Standing Armed in the October 2011 issue of Fame'd Magazine only 4 weeks later. You can click on the link to read, but here is a super brief synopsis:  world travels that exposed her to a wide range of culture and fashion, 4 years in the technically challenging Ryerson Fashion Design program to hone her skills, a current job in the industry and a supportive family that has her back.


What did Walsh do right last fall?  All the steps needed to catch my eye.  Creating beautifully designed and constructed garments made out of the perfect fabrics was definitely a part of the formula, but other things came into play. Here are several important details she paid attention to in a very professional way:


1.   I received an email from her PR agent inviting me to the launch.  The invite included a great editorial picture that presented her collection well. That picture alone was enough to make me curious A good PR agent has the ear of local media - including hundreds of email contacts - and knows how to approach them.  They also understand the kind of photos needed to make press releases stand out from the hundreds we receive.  

2.  Great photos!  I cannot say enough how important strong images are. Walsh had both a great editorial shoot that captured the feel of her inspiration - Morocco and an old editorial gypsy caravan shoot and excellent - and clear product photos of her designs (kudos to photographer Kelly Jill and team - full credits below). With all the competition in this industry, you need to spend money on a good photographer and use models appropriate for your customer.  I know how hard this is.  Money is at a premium and it's easy to take shortcuts on promotional material when the purse runs dry.  BUT, those editorial photos and a proper look book are your calling cards.


2.  A good location doesn't hurt.  In this case, it was the Waterfall Building.  This was a venue I had been looking at for my fall launch so I was intrigued to attend an event there.  The location has an art gallery feel to the space and Walsh left the floor space open so guests didn't feel crowded. I know money is an issue, but if you can afford a classier venue, do it!  It takes the whole launch to a different level.  If not - I would prefer a coffee shop to a nightclub.

3.  Proper models and a unique presentation.  Here Walsh was inventive.  Instead of a sit down fashion show which takes a lot of organizing, she had models lined along 2 walls so we could view the collection at will - even get up close and personal with the garments to better see the fabrics.  If you had a tight schedule, you could be in and out quickly.  If you had more time you could mix, mingle and have a face-to-face chat with the designer.  Great thought was put into the order the models stood as a flow was created that was easy on the eye.


4.  The designer was available to guests.  Because Walsh wasn't back stage organizing and running the fashion show, she was free to talk with those in attendance all night.  Normally the designer is deluged after a show with a long and intimating line of well wishers.  I am sure she loved being in the trenches talking with family, friends, clients and media while the PR agency took care of all the details.  I personally loved how easy it was to catch her ear and hear first hand about this collection while the garments were still on display.

5.  A strong look book to hand out to media was created with both product images and a few of the editorial photos.  I  loved this look book. It brought back the feel of the collection as I perused it the next day.  The pacing and flow were bang on and the graphic design well thought out.  It is also one of the reasons I was able to get the article approved so quickly.


6.  Last but not least, the reason that I could put Walsh in an issue of Fame'd Magazine only 4 weeks later is there were a few unpublished editorial images for me to use.  Saving even a couple images back for media can really speed things up when it comes to publication.  Kudos to the photographer for making the magazine aware that she did have these additional images available.

I can't say enough about how talented I think this artist is.  Her S/S 12 launch was one of my favourites last fall.  Lindsay Walsh is also a truly nice person who was a joy to interview. As the designer is the number one focal point for her brand, being approachable is the first step in getting more publicity and she handles the spotlight well. I can't wait to see what she offers for Fall 2012.


For more information, please visit her website at www.standing armed.com.

Editorial and Look Book Photography credits -
Photography by KELLY JILL - www.kellyjill.com
Styling - ELIM CHU - thestyleseen.com
Make-up and Hair - TALYSIA AYALA using MAC Cosmetics and Tresemme Hair Care
Models - LILIAN and LUCY @ Lizbell Agency

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