Monday, June 22, 2009

Audi Fashion Festival

When people ask, “what is Fashion”, words such as New York, Paris, London, Milan are normally the first words that come to one’s mind. These countries are the fashion capitals of the world with semiannual fashion weeks held for designers to showcase their latest works and collections. On the map of fashion, Singapore is literally a small red dot compared to these giants. However, with our annual Singapore Fashion Festival (SFF), which past events was a playground for various international and local designers coupled with models such as British Supermodel Lily Cole and bands such as Placebo, it seems as though Singapore definitely has something to say.

The news of this year’s Fashion Festival being put on hold till next year was an indication that proved true to buzz about something big happening for this year’s SFF. And indeed so; within months, the official press release of the Audi Fashion Festival (AFF) was given and it was as extravagant as promised- Christian Lacroix opening the Festival and Vivienne Westwood closing with her Anglomania collection.

Though I have little interest in what is considered fashionable or not these days as I live by the mantra “simplicity is best”, I am constantly amazed and awestruck by French designer Christian Lacroix’s ability to turn fabric into costumes and high-end clothes that define thebright colours and extravagant embellishments of the 1980s. Upon hearing that he would be opening the AFF, it was without question that I would make the effort to view his collection, one way or another. As his opening event for the AFF was sold out within days of the ticket release, I had no choice but to head to the National Musuem of Singapore to see costumes and sketches from the collection of the Centre National du Costume de Scène (National Stage Costume Centre, Moulins, France) and from Lacroix's personal collection instead.


An event similar to that of the AFF would probably be the London Fashion Week. The London Fashion Week has definitely been very successful as it has made it to become one of the traditional "big four" fashion weeks that are followed by new emerging fashion weeks globally. Using the 8 Ps of Events Marketing, I will now compare Singapore’s AFF with London Fashion week in terms of its marketing strategy.

The product is usually the festival itself. Any spectator that went for the AFF all had one thing in mind- experiencing fashion. It came as no surprise that I did not manage to get a ticket for Christian Lacroix’s Spring/Summer 2009 Opening Gala as everyone wanted a taste of high-end fashion from iconic designers both local or international. Nevertheless, I got my fix of Christian Lacroix’s haute couture designs from his exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore that featured breathtakingly gorgeous costumes and intricate sketches from the collection of the Centre National du Costume de Scène and Lacroix’s personal collection.

Enhancing the product was the dim lighting that danced off the shiny costumes, making the costumes seem as though they had a life of their own. The presentation of the entire exhibition really made it a trip worth making and it even made me want to come back a second time round just to experience it all again.

The London Fashion Week is also centered on high-end fashion designers showcasing their collections and hence offers the same products as the AFF. However, as it is more prestigious than the AFF, who has yet to make a name for itself, the London Fashion Week has also the added bonus of being a glamorous and sophisticated event that only superstars and VIPs can be invited to. Those visiting the London Fashion Week also have the esteem factor in mind.


The place is important to the success of the festival as it is the first thing visitors will see upon arrival. The accessibility, accommodation, venue facilities etc also play a part.There are several events going on at the AFF that have been divided into 2 main categories- Tent@Orchard or Satellite events. Events held at the Tent@Orchard is as its name suggests, a big tent on Orchard Road- specifically Ngee Ann City. Orchard Road is easily accessible by any transportation method available, be it car, train or bus. Located right at the heart of central Singapore, there are a myriad hotels available for the accommodation of foreign visitors. The Official Hotel being the prestigious St. Regis Singapore, it is located within a short ride away from the Tent@Orchard. With 360 degree view of shopping centers, there are endless facilities available for all types of visitors. Satellite events are held at numerous locations, most being very easily accessible by any public transport.

The National Museum of Singapore, which hosted Christian Lacroix's exhibition, is located very near central Singapore, with neighbouring buildings such as Singapore Management University and the Singapore Arts Museum.

London Fashion Week will be relocated to the Somerset House from September 2009, a major arts and culture center in London. According to the chairman of the British Fashion Council, it is “historic location that will provide a beautiful setting to this cutting edge international trade event. We are pleased to be working in partnership with Somerset House to develop London Fashion Week's profile and offer to designers, utilizing the architecturally interesting spaces to make the venue our new home.”

The venues of both festivals contribute heavily to the success of the festival, proving that the place is indeed important.

Packaging & Distribution-
For the AFF, there were little packaged offers available. One of the very few offers available was the 10% off all ticket prices for Mastercard holders. As the AFF is an event that has yet to mature and take off into international borders, special packages such as accommodation and travel packages are unnecessary as festival goers are still pretty much locals. However, for the London Fashion Week, there are many packages available. For example, the Official Hotel of London Fashion Week is The May Fair hence The May Fair has special room rate of only 195 pounds per night for those visiting the collections.

The Official Airline, British Airways also offer special fares for international guests. Packages such as the Early Morning London Fashion Week Hospitality, Lunchtime London Fashion Week Hospitality and Afternoon/Evening London Fashion Week Hospitality are also an added bonus.
Special packages are important in attracting guests from all over the world. As the AFF has yet to reach international status, simple packages for locals such as discounts off ticket prices for certain credit card holders and student or children prices are good enough but as the AFF starts to climb the fashion ladder into regional then international status, packages are an ideal way to attract more visitors both local and international.
People refers to the staff, guests, participants, festival goers and anyone directly involved with the festival. Event staff are one of the most important people in the festival. They are responsible for keeping the festival experience alive. During my trip to Christian Lacroix’s exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore, I was warmly greeted by the staff and handed a book on the exhibition. There was a free guided tour available that really increased my knowledge about Christian Lacroix’s collection and his life and inspirations. These pleasant exchanges between staff and I gave me a lasting good impression on the event and how they bred their staff to have a positive attitude. It also gave me an incentive to make return trips to the festival.
In contrary, the London Fashion Week is an exclusive, prestigious event that caters to the rich and famous, hence all involved would exude a certain level of sophistication and would expect a high level of service.

Most events held at the Tent@Orchard and certain Satellite events such as exclusive after-parties are closed to the public and can only be accessed by Invite. The rest of the events had prices ranging from Free to $400 for the Christian Lacroix’s opening event. Mastercard holders were allowed priority booking and also got 10% off ticket prices for all shows. For the Christian Lacroix exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore however, was free as I had a valid student pass. However, for adults and seniors & NSF it was $8 and $4 respectively.
The London Fashion Week is similar as some events were by Invite only and some were ticketed.


Partnerships with sponsors and other organizations are crucial in terms of the funding and support of the event. The AFF had a total of 23 sponsors and partners and this helped a great deal, as there was a tight budget for the event as well as no support from the Singapore Tourism Board. Partnering with well-known brands such as Samsung and Lee Hwa Jewellery, it helped publicize the event to the masses.

London Fashion week had a total of 22 sponsors and partners. With household brands such as Canon as their main sponsor and English newspaper the Evening Standard, it also helped publicize London Fashion Week to the masses.

Both events made use of well-known brand names to not only financially support them but also publicize their event successfully.

Promotion comprises of advertising, sales promotion, public relations & personal selling. Mercury Marketing & Communications decided to focus on public relations instead of advertising as they decided that public relations campaigns were a better way of selling their product to the media. It was also cheaper than normal advertising as the budget was tight. The press releases, press conference & interviews with designers relase by Mercury Marketing & Communications also increased awareness of the AFF. A press conference ( see video of press conference at the Video Bar located at the side of the blog! ) was held not a few months after the announcement of the annual SFF was being put on hold to give readers a sneak peek into what was in store for them. Before long, it was all over the Internet about the upcoming event. Household names such as Audi, Master Card, Baker, Samsung, Lee Hwa Jewellery etc. that sponsored the AFF helped in promoting the event.

In comparison, the London Fashion Week also depends on a large amount of sponsors to promote the event. As it is part of the traditional “big four” fashion weeks and its host organization is the British Fashion Council, London Fashion Week can ride on their past semiannual events’ success in creating awareness about the festival. With such strong backing and popular sponsors, this also helps in creating and promoting the London Fashion Week.

There were a variety of events held over the 5-day festival for the AFF. It ranged from international high-end designers such as Gareth Pugh, Vivienne Westwood and Christian Lacroix, to our very own international reknown designer Ashley Isham, to local designers such as Nic Wong and Jo Soh. Each designer had a special trademark design of their own, Gareth Pugh with his Goth-punk designs to Christian Lacroix with his fairytale costumes to a touch of local flavour by Jo Soh with her blend of quirky playful and understated minimalistic womenswear.
For the London Fashion Week, there is a host of only the very best designers showing off their collections over a 5-day period. A detailed schedule is available online here.
As the London Fashion Week is more prestigious and coveted, it has no problems pulling in top designers to showcase their collections to the world. As the AFF is still in its infant stage, they can only manage to showcase few designers. However, it is no walk in the park to be able to get designers such as Gareth Pugh to showcase his collections here as this will be the first time he is doing so in Asia.

Best Practices

Noteworthy efforts (best practices) made by Mercury Marketing & Communications would be the way they promoted the AFF. By deciding to focus on public relations, they managed to create so much buzz over the AFF without using much of the normal advertising methods, saving them a lot of money. The use of household brands as their sponsors also helped them publicize the event even more as people could identify with these brands, and thus were more enticed to go for the event that was being sponsored by a brand they knew and liked.

The venues chosen were also another plus as they were easily accessible, had a variety of venue related activities, etc. For example, hosting the main event at Ngee Ann City was a very smart move as this was right in the middle of the city, easily accessible, a tourist hotspot with elements such as food & beverage, accommodation within reach.


Host Organisation and Community

AFF: Mercury Marketing and Communications, Singapore

London Fashion Week: British Fashion Council, London


AFF: Audi, MasterCard, Baker, Samsung Mobile, Lee Hwa Jewellery

London Fashion Week: Canon, British Airways, Chambord, Drapers, Evening Standard, Evian, LavAzza, LG, London Development Agency, M.A.C, Moet & Chandon, The May Fair Hotel, Monsoon, Renault, Selective Beauty, Toni&Guy, TopShop, Toywatch, UK Trade & Investment,


AFF: Microsoft Advertising, Live!studios, 1 Werks
London Fashion Week:
the Evening Standard, London Fashion Week TV


AFF: Action Hair Salon using L'Oréal Professionnel, The St. Regis Singapore, Coca-Cola light, DHL, Dr. Georgia Lee, International Conexxion, Lavish, Live!studios, M·A·C, Microsoft Advertising, Piper-Heidsieck, Rosemount, SIA, Time Out Singapore, 1 Werks, NOVITA, the Lifestyle Makers, Yew Lee Metal Works, Volunteers from the public
London Fashion Week: Mulberry, Rowenta

Participants and Spectators

AFF: Designers (such as Christian Lacroix, Gareth Pugh, Vivienne Westwood etc), Mercury Marketing & Communications staff, volunteers, models, venue staff, invited guests, locals, foreigners

London Fashion Week: Designers (such as Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood, etc), staff, models, venue staff, invited guests, locals, foreigners

Main Purpose

The main purpose of the AFF is definitely to introduce Singapore into the world of fashion. By hosting the AFF, it creates awareness amongst top fashion designers about Singapore as a potential fashion capital. This will result in more high-end designers using Singapore as a platform to showcase their collections. This is desirable as playing host to such fashion festivals help Singapore gain revenue from tourists and investors. Another purpose for this event is to spark interest in fashion amongst the locals in Singapore, making Singaporeans more fashion forward.

Tourism Benefits

The AFF is an event that has yet to mature and reach international status. Hence, it is not very likely that tourists would make a trip to Singapore just for the event alone. However, the AFF has been a success and has the potential to reach international status. Once it has reached international status like the London Fashion Week has, it will not only bring in thousands of tourists, it will also bring in a myriad of investors keen on being part of such an event. This will definitely boost Singapore's economy as tourists will spend while visiting collections and exhibitions during the festival as well as investors pumping in money. 

Hence, as of now, the AFF has few tourism benefits but given time, it would definitely be a huge contribution to Singapore and her economy.