Rob Nowill (22) has been at Fourpublicity, the in-house PR unit at fashion sales agency Fourmarketing, for just over a year. He looks after brands including oki-ni.com, JC de Castelbajac, True Religion Brand Jeans, C.P. Company, and Stone Island.
Cision: Which London Fashion Week shows will you be attending and which designers and brands are you looking forward to seeing?
Rob: I’ll be attending as many as I’m able to but it’s never as many as the journalists – last season i went to about 10 shows, including PPQ, Charlie le Mindu, Mulberry, and Ann-Sofie Back. I normally do more shows on the menswear day as I work with the online menswear retailer oki-ni.com. I’m most excited about the new wave of menswear designers, who are probably doing the most exciting things in London right now. Particularly JW Anderson, and Lou Dalton, who are producing really beautiful, focused and daring collections that also have real commercial merit. In terms of womenswear, Marios Schwab is a firm favourite. He has such a focused creative vision that sets him apart from what most other designers are doing at the moment. And Fashion East is always an exciting one, I don’t think they’ve ever had a season where they haven’t produced a truly great designer.
Cision: In your opinion, who has shaped the Fashion industry’s opinion most in 2010?
Rob: The obvious answer is Phoebe Philo. What she’s done in the last couple of seasons with Celine has completely transformed the way that many designers are approaching fashion. She moved the industry away from heavily trend-led fashion, towards pieces of real luxury with much more longevity. But for me, one of the key industry shapers this year has been Crystal Renn. For a plus size model to be shot in main fashion stories for French Vogue and walk for Chanel within the space of a few months is really quite remarkable, and I think her presence will have quite an impact on castings for shows and shoots.
Cision: As a PR specialist do you differentiate how you interact and communicate with fashion journalists compared to fashion bloggers?
Rob: To a certain extent, yes. From a PR perspective, the great thing about fashion bloggers is that they don’t necessarily require a fully fleshed-out story -they upload so many posts each day that it can be something as simple as an image of a product they like. So with bloggers I try to keep a constant feed of information going to them – whereas my communication with journalists tends to be on more focused, targeted stories.
Cision: Has the overall decline in print media sales impacted the relationships you build with journalists and bloggers?
Rob: I think it has – some magazines are now so dependent on advertising revenue that they can only take interest in the big money brands, which means that smaller labels without an ad budget can be overlooked. That’s one of the reasons why bloggers have become such a valuable tool for PRs – as they have the freedom to cover any brand, regardless of its size.
Cision: When promoting brands what communication tools do you prefer?
Rob: E-mailers are probably the most common method of communicating with the press, but I’ve always preferred to pick up the phone.
Cision: How important are social media as promotional tools when reaching out to the respective target audiences?
Rob: I certainly think they have their place but I wouldn’t consider them to be one of the most important mediums. We have a Fourpublicity twitter which is great for informal updates, such as when celebrities have worn our designers, or for when we attend industry events.
Cision: In your opinion what level of influence does a fashion blogger have on the fashion industry today? How do you expect this to change in the future?
Rob: I suppose it depends which blogger we’re talking about! Someone like Susie Bubble or Cathryn Horyn, or an online magazine like Slamxhype or Hypebeast can have a really strong influence, because those are people from within the industry – they’ve been around fashion for years and are speaking from a position of credibility. Smaller blogs are still great to spread a brand’s message but, of course, the whole point of blogs is that anyone can write them – so you won’t necessarily be getting a considered opinion.
Cision: 2010 fashion magazines sales have been flat but there are clear winners, such as Glamour, and clear losers such as Cosmopolitan. What does this tell us about the industry?
Rob: I think consumers expect a great deal more from magazines now. There’s so much free content online that people need a good reason to part with their money, and rightly so. There’s a move towards magazines with more originality, with a real voice: newer titles like Industrie, Inventory, etc are offering something that websites and blogs can’t in terms of the quality of their editorial and the caliber of their contributors.