Trunk Shows- A thing of the past?

Trunk Shows- A thing of the past?

A “trunk show” has been one of the fashion industries most productive business strategies to generate revenue, excitement, and buzz.  In spite of the fact that trunk shows have seen some decline, this strategy can be beneficial for a brand, if executed correctly.

Let’s get to the basics of a trunk show.


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Usually at a trunk show, the designer, or design associate, makes a personal appearance at a retail venue.  They will bring along a larger selection of merchandise than is displayed in the host store.  Sometimes, retail stores make an arrangement with a designer to come and sell directly to their customers if the goods are not sold in their store.   The store benefits from the cost-free added goods to sell.  The customer benefits from having one-on-one contact with the designer.



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“A trunk show is generally a win-win for the retailer.” Says Michelle Rowe designer consultant for  “It is a good way for them to try out a collection, and test the waters for customer interest, with no monetary commitment.  It is also a reason for them to reach out to their customers and bring them into the store” Is it a win-win for the brand?   Yes, in many ways the line is presented to a new clientele.  It gives the brand an opportunity to see product on many different people and hear their feedback.  Brand’s can also see what’s not working.  A brand also get’s an opportunity to be associated with a store that can give their line credibility.


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“The trunk show we did with Bloomingdales was successful” says David Axelrad founder of AXELRADNYC, a unisex jewelry brand based in NYC.  “We did pay a fee to participate but the return was greater then the fee, we interacted with the consumer, sold product, and saw first hand what product the consumer connected with.  It’s better then a focus group and forces the brand to see the bigger picture!”.


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We asked Michelle Rowe, designer consultant for, her insight on what brand’s need to do when conducting a trunk show:

  1. When prepping, make sure customers have been reached out to and the trunk show has been advertised and marketed in all possible avenues.  Traffic is key.  Beyond that, making sure you have a good assortment to represent your collection.  Included in this, should a piece or two with a wow factor.
  2. Be inquisitive and interested, but not pushy.  Offer the consumer as much information about a collection as you can, without being overbearing, while getting as much information as possible about what they like and are looking for.
  3. It is ideal to follow up with every customer that attended, even if it is just to say thank you for coming.


With an unstable economy, flash sale launches, and brands going consumer direct, maybe a trunk show can make a comeback as an intimate way for brands to develop a relationship with the consumer and retailer. Word of Mouth never goes out of style.


By Kosi Harris

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