Branding + Marketing
Created on:
August 31, 2020

How to Make the Most of Your Runway, Event, or Trunk Show

The typical design to runway process goes like this: spend loads of time thinking of your designs, planning your products, and finish just in time to launch a collection for the runway. Rarely do designers start planning far enough in advance or have the right partners to make the best use of their time and resources when launching their collection.

Why 'The Runway' and event-based selling still matters (even during a Pandemic)

Runway shows and events have a lot of glitz and glamor associated with them so they make for a great ‘moment’ for your shoppers and press to attend your event and experience your brand (especially outside of NYFW). Even with a pandemic, the seasonality of these events means for a certain amount of time during the year, you have an opportunity to be a part of the conversation. Don’t miss the opportunity to use the moment and excitement of an event to your advantage, just make sure you use it effectively!

But what if I'm not in a show?

Being a part of an official show is not always necessary to create a news-worthy event for your brand. With platforms like Tik Tok, Youtube, and Instagram - you can create digital runways and looks at your collections from the comfort of your home (or anywhere!). The most important thing is to be creative and pick a format that speaks to your brand - whether it's a LIVE broadcast or a reel.

We’re bringing you our learnings from running over 50 events and numerous live shoppable activations on the runway, live-steamed, and in-stores. Here our our best practices for how to best digitally activate your runway or launch event:

Prepare your samples and production pipeline 

Be smart about your event - carrying inventory is a pain, whether it’s physically or ‘on the books.’ How do you avoid this? Consider taking pre-orders and producing on-demand or placing limited inventory orders to replenish through quick turn manufacturing. With your N.A.bld account, you can upload your product tech packs and get production bids from manufacturers in a few days. After the show, submit your  Purchase Order to these quick-turn manufacturers for fast delivery to clients. Don’t forget to take orders from shoppers by showing sample pieces of your collection either in-person or through your website.

PRO TIP: We have found that runway attendees actually don’t try on clothes at shows. Typically they will socialize and shop with the expectation that there is a brand rep available to give guidance on fit. But it is always great to have a full size run on hand just in case attendees would like to try on your designs! 

Identify stories and prep your messaging

What’s your story?. Why did you start designing? Where are you from? What inspires you? Who are you designing for or what fashion problem are you fixing? The sooner you can start thinking about the story the better - whether it's your brand story or the story behind the collection fashion show attendees want to connect with the story you present to them!

Once you have identified your story, it’s time to pick your moment. When will you launch? Why now? How will what you do amplify your brand message or story? Whether you tie into the traditional fashion calendar or not, there may be parts of your story that you can associate with dates or events that make sense to promote your product. 

PRO TIP: Leverage a PR worthy moment.  For example, at our sister marketplace Nineteenth Amendment, we went off-season for an exclusive trunk show at Lord & Taylor called Nineteenth Amendment People. The date fell just around voting season and the shoppable event featured voting themed activities that helped engage attendees while they shopped. Your own PR moment should speak to your brand and what it stands for!

Develop your digital strategy

When launching a collection, whether on the runway or not, you have to have a solid digital marketing strategy. At N.A.bld, we think the best way to leverage your event is to include a live video stream that brings your non-local fans to the front row. For February New York Fashion Week 2018, we partnered with 1800flowers to broadcast a live editorial photoshoot featuring mini interviews with models, stylists and more! The added benefit to tying in partnerships is the ability to cross promote your video and marketing materials through their social channels! What’s even better? Live video is effective and relatively cheap! All you need is your cell phone and a steady hand :)

PRO TIP: The digital space is a crowded space so make sure you have a clear and tight Call-to-Action and high quality digital photo and video assets.

Give a promotion

Don’t make it easy for your attendees to walk away empty handed. This doesn’t have to be a discount or an expensive gift - although we are big believers in pre-sale discounts to encourage time-locked sales :). Offer some kind of deal to the customers to keep them engaged with your brand even after they leave.

PRO TIP: A small branded gift can make attendees into brand reps even without purchasing. Consider partnering with another product company that does branded merchandise to offer gift bags or discounts together.

Get feedback, make sales 

Mingling is an important aspect of the trunk show. Do not stay behind a table or a booth; interact with every guest that visits your show. Wear and talk about your product but also ask questions to make them feel special and identify what they are looking for. Give them tips and advice on how to style and wear each piece. It is important that you get to know them but that they also get to know you (and your brand). 

PRO TIP: Don’t be shy! Do not wait for attendees to ask you questions. Find a way to make them interact with your product or your online store at the show; perhaps, by seeing more variety (color, style, etc) or by making an order. 

Find your tribe and follow up

Fashion is a source for amazing content and entertainment but if you are a brand, you want to make sure you are getting your collection in front of the right people who can purchase your products and share your message. Be sure to curate in-person experiences with the right audience - whether it’s your first 20 customers getting VIP status or the first ten bloggers you work with, make sure you are reinforcing your brand with people who care and are committed to helping you grow. Re-engage your attendees (digital and in-person) after the show by using your digital strategy. What’s next? Now that the customers know you and your brand, they will be more willing to buy from your collections. Maintain communication with them to help you spread the word and come back to your website or store. 

PRO TIP: If they didn’t purchase at the show, consider offering a discount to purchase in the next 24 hours only. You may be able to capitalize on the fear-of-missing-out and make additional sales!

Made pre-order sales? Build brand loyalty from design to delivery.

A successful event is still exhausting, but if you’ve made sales you will still have to fulfill the customer’s order! When you use N.A.bld to produce on-demand after your runway show, you can opt in to sending your customers updates along the production journey. Leverage our email integration to automatically pro-actively communicate these updates through the system. 

PRO TIP: Use your emails to story-tell for your brand. Information like your mission, charitable or sustainable aspects, or even just lifestyle reinforcements like how to wear and style, can be useful to trigger loyalty and high net promoter scores. We see open rates on the emails above 65% so it’s a great way to build loyalty.


Now your brand can launch products in conjunction with a press-worthy moment and get the most ROI from your event investment by having your products available for purchase. Leverage our expert team, service providers, and no-minimum manufacturing partners to make “see now, buy now” a reality for your brand.

Tell us what you think and what you have used that worked in your own runway and launch events. If you’re ready to launch your collection the smart way on N.A.bld, start your trial today (it’s never too early to get runway-ready).