By Annie Stephan, Point Park News Service:
As fashion student Cassandra Neely sits in class and talks about scoring clothing without spending money, her classmates are all ears.
As a brand ambassador for Bib + Tuck, it is Neely’s responsibility to spread the word about the company, passing out branded merchandise and promoting the company on social media.
Fashion labels are heading back to school through the development of campus representative programs. From large retailers, such as Rent the Runway and Victoria’s Secret, to fashion tech companies like Stylitics and Bib + Tuck, college campuses have become a new focus in marketing campaigns.
“I think it is important for [fashion brands] to have campus rep programs, because it really gets the word out about them,” Neely said. “I think a lot of times college students aren’t really thinking so much about shopping.”
Neely, a Pittsburgh native studying fashion merchandising at Kent State University, spent the semester serving as a brand ambassador for Bib + Tuck, an online community where users can take photos of clothing they want to get rid of and list them for a chosen amount of ‘bucks’ (Bib + Tuck’s virtual currency). When another user purchases the item, the listing individual receives that amount of ‘bucks’ to spend on other items listed on the site. Essentially an online closet swap, Bib + Tuck allows users to shop one another’s closets without spending real money (other than shipping).
Another tech company that has taken to college campuses to promote their brand is Stylitics, a website and mobile app that allows users to create a digital closet and share items with friends, track outfits and collect style advice.
“As an app and as something that integrates tech into the entire experience, [Stylitics] is a really forward thinking company, and it is really important for us to incorporate the voice of the people that are actually going to be using it,” said Stylitics Marketing Manager Annie Wazer in a phone interview.
In the two years the Stylitics campus ambassador program has been up and running, the brand developed a large community of college marketers, according to Wazer. The brand currently has 75 ambassadors, with some schools having multiple representatives.
The campus ambassador program provides numerous outlets for students to explore various areas of the industry, including editorial, business development and marketing.
“No matter what track you are on, it is a really great chance to network within the fashion industry, specifically in New York because that is where we are based,” Wazer said. “Our ambassadors are also really encouraged to create relationships with other people within the company.”
Another company looking to spread brand awareness on campus is fashionABLE. When Blair Pettit, a junior human and organizational development major at Vanderbilt University, was searching for social enterprises this past summer, she came across fashionABLE.
An accessories company dedicated to creating job opportunities for women in Africa, fashioABLE debuted its campus rep program this year. Representatives are given sample scarves to wear around campus and display at the two mini events and holiday party that they are responsible for holding on their respective campuses. Pettit, who serves as the campus rep manager, said that although the process has stressful at times, she has loved being a part of fashionABLE.
“I feel as though a lot of businesses are shifting towards being more social enterprise type companies. I think it is really good experience to understand how a company works internationally and helps people,” Pettit said.
Paige Snyder is the social media marketing manager and campus rep manager for new sorority jewelry company A List Greek. She oversees approximately 30 representatives, including a student at the University of Pittsburgh. A List Greek campus representatives receive a 15 percent commission on all sales they generate on the website.
“I think it is important because through campus reps, we can get to audiences that we could not normally get to, and it makes marketing much easier and more efficient,” Snyder said. “[Representatives] can give companies feedback on customers in different geographic areas, so we can tailor our marketing to them.”
Tracy Negoshian is another company with a campus representative program focusing on sororities. Referred to as Elephant Reps, Tracy Negoshian campus representatives work to grow brand awareness for the Florida-based fashion label.
There are 12 Elephant Reps working to increase brand awareness through hosting events, promoting the brand through social media and referring students for purchases, according to Elizabeth Meehan, marketing manger at Tracy Negoshia.
“[Campus ambassadors] incorporate ideas of the future, and the students are and will have such a great impact on the fashion industry for years and years to come, so it is important for us to bring them on, not only as a voice and for that sort of feedback side of things, but also to give them an opportunity to be a part of an industry that they might be interested in, no matter where they live in the country, ” Wazer said.