A Glance at Curating Events

By 10 January 2016

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Last year, I attend the Paris Fashion Week, which, as always, had a strong representation of iconic brands in the industry. It was a stressful time for designers who created new collections, and organised fashion shows and presentations – all aimed at making a meaningful impact in the industry.

Here’s my realisation: at a time when celebrities, editors, photographers, models, bloggers, publicists, assistants, stylists are busy attending catwalk shows by Chanel, Dior, Givenchy and delving into the world of Issey Miyake and Elie Saab, they have little time to check out the crop of new designers.

Emerging designers and brands need a commercial platform to showcase their creativity and grow their business. Often, trade shows are big but not targeted enough to showcase the unique aspects of the individual brands. This brings me to the question: where does that leave emerging designers?

I think, this is where a concept such as Market Outside the Box works well. It has, for the past three years, provided designers with a platform showcase their work, while connecting them with buyers, retailers and establishing networks in the industry.

As I take on a very crucial responsibility as curator of the third edition of Market Outside the Box (MOTB)- Dubai, the region’s unique retail and lifestyle concept, I am deeply honoured to be playing such a key role at MOTB. The event was conceived in 2014, by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and the DSF, to support emerging businesses and talented individuals in furthering their entrepreneurial ambitions.

As mentioned earlier, I often visit events and shows as part of my luxury consultancy business. I observe and watch the event curators at work and, in the process, have learnt a lot from all those I have interacted with in this field.

Today, I would like to share my key takeaways and thoughts on some of the dos and don’ts of curating lifestyle/fashion/design centric events.

I would also like to throw the spotlight on key traits I have seen in some of the top-notch event curators.

So, what exactly makes for a good curator?

I’d say a mix of qualities: intelligence, knowledge, passion, curiosity and hard work. It is also important to be an inspirer as you curate, or put together, an event. The key to the role is being an enabler and an enthusiast, who can also be a good sounding board. I also believe it is important to be a hands-on person who can hit the ground running, when doing a show.

Here are some pointers to organising a high-profile event and nurturing creativity:

  • Offer insight – it is important to possess a key insight into the urban market, have a thorough knowledge of the cultures, and organise an entertaining event of very high quality.
  • Aspiring vendors and brand placement – identify emerging brands that have the potential for growth, while factoring in brand profile, product development.
  • Manage vendors – create a matrix that serves as a checklist for vendor recruitment. Set up a Vendor Recruitment Committee and enlist their help in identifying and shortlisting vendors, participants.
  • Study trends – it is important to understand the local scene, recent trends and have well-established ties with international entities, as well as a sound understanding of the international market. This helps set a benchmark not only for the event and exhibitors but also to look at what’s happening around the world.
  • Connect – as a curator, you have to have the know-how and connections to establish relationships and build key partnerships for mentoring programmes. E.g.: The Dubai fashion Council has mentoring programmes; get them on board. Also, try roping in other associations that support emerging brands in Saudi, Qatar and Kuwait. These relationships and partnerships are key to developing the event and chalking out a well-thought out strategy for brand building, marketing, and development.
  • Engage – it is essential to have an engagement with industry experts, influencers and opinion leaders who understand the community of emerging brands and at the same time, can add more value by helping work on creating more footfall, driving more sales, add on more credibility by associating with the event as event ambassadors.
  • Select exhibitors/designers – find out if the designer is credible vis-à-vis the work? How long has the designer been into business, what is the collection he/she is working on? What is the price point? At an event that is market-driven and focused on sales, you need to empower the exhibitors/designers. You don’t really want on board designers whose products are very expensive. You want them to be able to sell. E.g.: focus on fashion jewellery not fine-luxury jewellery, which are high-end. Selecting the right exhibitor/designer for the platform is the KPI of any curator. Assess how they can add value to the event. Do not make a judgement based on the number of years the designer has been around in the industry but based on the commitment and vision to the brand.
  • Provide variety – ensure a variety of categories for exhibitors, such as fashion, jewellery, home and décor, children, beauty, health etc.

www.dsfmarketotb.ae NK Luxury Consultancy (NKLC) is a boutique consulting house based in Dubai Design District  dedicated to helping established, international, luxury lifestyle brands create presence in Dubai and GCC. NKLC advises companies on their long term brand strategy, developing near term tactical planning for execution across communications, products, and retail touch points. As part of our ongoing commitment to the industry, NKLC established a  mentorship program dedicated to supporting emerging brands grow from a product into a business. We work with emerging and established fashion and consumer luxury brands, designers, retailers, art associations and luxury associations.   To connect with Narimane Kurdi, Managing Director narimane@nkluxuryconsultancy.com 

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