Are Market Appointments Still Necessary in a Digital Fashion World?

In today’s increasingly digital world, the market appointment is one of the few relics still standing from the pre-Internet fashion era. Meant to introduce editors and buyers to a brand’s most recent collection, the meetings usually involve a detailed walk through the latest pieces, either by a press representative or, if you’re lucky, the designers themselves. Although runway shows and presentations may be more exciting, it’s these appointments that editors really count on to give them a sense of the current season and help them brainstorm future stories. After all, there’s a significant difference between seeing a garment or accessory whirl by you on a model and actually holding it in your hands. You might assume that such close contact would be invaluable, but the industry’s widespread migration to the digital sphere has actually called that into question.

See, the Internet has not only transformed the way we do things overall—it’s also shaken up our values as an industry, especially when it comes to what we look for in new collections. While we may have once been content to settle for pieces that were well made and beautiful in person, we now place a greater emphasis on how something photographs, especially when laid flat. Confused as to why that might matter? All you have to do is consider your favourite e-commerce site, or Who What Wear itself! Think of the shopping imagery we collectively prefer: crisp and clear, on a white background, with the item’s form and function un-garbled when seen off the body. Without such standards, our readers wouldn't get the best sense of what they're looking at, or, more importantly, thinking about buying. And there’s not a magazine or website today that doesn’t need imagery like this—that, you might say, doesn’t thrive on imagery like this—even if it’s still producing fashion spreads that showcase clothing in action. As a result, market appointments can fall a bit lower on the priority list, and the extensive digital press kits that brands now send out indicate their awareness of this change.

But do all of us editors support this transformation or believe, perhaps, that such appointments are now a waste of time? Not in the least. Scroll down to see what some of the top editors working in both magazine and digital publishing had to say about the place of market appointments today:

“Isn't the point of being a market editor to be in the market? I think that in a digital fashion world, those appointments are more valuable than ever. We’re already far too reliant on technology to communicate our ideas about fashion, which is a shame because clothing really demands an in-person experience for it to be truly appreciated.

From a magazine perspective, I think market editors have a responsibility to see as much as they possibly can in order to bring readers the best information, and to communicate directly with the fashion houses and designers so they can really explain what’s happening in fashion (and not just online).

And for me personally, I'd much rather hear from a designer about their collection than from a press release. Of course, social media and digital photography are having an enormous impact on design, communications, shopping, and even how we decide what to wear, and [these changes] have certainly made our lives easier in some respects. But you can't really understand how they’ve done that if you never leave your desk—otherwise, you’re setting yourself up to be replaced by an algorithm.”

“I absolutely think that market appointments are crucial in the digital fashion world. The boundaries between traditional print and web jobs are starting to blur—you have print editors who contribute to the web and vice versa, so why wouldn’t you both attend the same appointments? It’s easy to write off appointments as unimportant since web editors aren’t always thinking seasons ahead, but I think we have the same responsibilities as print editors—we still have to plan stories in advance and how would you do that if you didn’t have an idea what would be coming out in the next few months?

Although good content doesn’t always require advance planning, I do think that web stories are starting to think bigger, and it’s these appointments that help [us] brainstorm better content. Plus, appointments really open your eyes to the little details and help you get to know the designer and their designs on a deeper level.

I do think it’s much more difficult to attend them when you’re working on very tight deadlines [that come with working in digital], and I personally don’t go to everyone, but I [try to] make an effort to balance the two [worlds].”

"While flat images that are well shot are a very important aspect of digital market stories, attending market appointments, feeling the fabrics, getting to know the weight of jewellery, seeing pieces move on models, and having the opportunity to speak with designers—and discover new ones—can’t really be underestimated. But please keep shooting great flats, too!"

“I’m a big believer in market appointments, and I don't think that the digital nature of fashion is encroaching on their necessity at all. If anything, I think they are even more important. It’s really nice to have face-to-face interaction with the designers who are sometimes on hand at market appointments to walk editors through collections. It’s a great way to maintain relationships as well because so much of our jobs are done over email that attaching a face to a name or even an @ handle [reminds you] that we are all actual human beings.

And for editors, I think it’s important to experience clothes and accessories in person. There are so many details involved in the construction of garments and accessories that are impossible to see from the runway, or even from photos. Think about how many times you’ve returned something you bought online because it didn't look like the image you saw. It’s the same thing when you are choosing clothes or accessories to shoot—the experience should be authentic.”

“I still think it’s really important to see the collections in person—everything just looks different [up close]. Sometimes I look at photos of shoes that I haven’t seen before and think they look great, but then I’ll call them into our closet and they look awful and cheap, or the opposite will happen, where something looks significantly better in person than it did in the picture. So it’s really important for me to look at the details up close to get an idea of whether I like it or not.

I also think it helps me to remember things when I go see them in person. Sometimes we’re seeing 15 different collections in a day, and it helps to put [specific items] in context, e.g., if Proenza shows a collection with tropical prints and they show it in a room full of tropical plants, I’ll remember that more. It helps [even more] when the designers are there and they’re explaining their inspiration to you. For instance, when you’re deciding between 200 pairs of shoes, you might then remember [an important detail like] this pair was inspired by cowboy boots, or whatever.

And, finally, it’s great to go meet press people in person at the appointments to help strengthen your relationship with them. It can be super helpful if you’re friendly with someone when you need a favour at the last minute."

Scroll down to see and shop the kind of product imagery that digital editors love most…

Thakoon Exclusive Wooden Heel/Raffia/Leather Sandals ($595) in Black

Do you think it's important for editors to continue going on market appointments? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!