They call it ‘Christmas for fashion-lovers’, and Melbourne’s annual Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival definitely involves the same levels of excitement, planning and festivities for Australia’s fashion community.

So when our team at Fashion Equipped found out we’d be having the privilege of hosting a VAMFF’s 2020 Ideas Program event in March 2020, we were beside ourselves with excitement!

Since its inception, VAMFF’s Ideas Program has been an integral component of the Festival, loved by audiences for exploring fashion beyond the runway and into the realms of business and ideas. As you may know, our ethos at Fashion Equipped is to elevate up-and-coming fashion business owners, encouraging exploration of ideas by bringing a creative eye to the fashion industry. Our team and community live and breathe this topic so we are so proud and excited to be hosting this event which we are sure will be inspiring for attendees and presenters alike.

DON’T MISS THIS! Purchase your VAMFF 2020 Ideas Program ticket here.

To celebrate our involvement in the Ideas Program, we’re sharing our top tips for planning and running fashion industry events. We’ve all been to an event that we were truly excited about, only to feel let down by poor planning, unimaginative panels, overcrowded venues or all of the above.

There’s a big difference between holding an event and putting on an event, and our insider tips will ensure your event goes from a one-day affair to a game-changing highlight for your attendees. Read on!

Tip 1) Don’t have a ‘cookie cutter’ panel

Long before announcing this event to the SYFB community or our clients, we were busy setting up a truly unmissable speaker lineup.

The key to pitching events to potential panelists is to be selective about who you invite. Repeat after us: A diverse panel is an interesting panel! Make sure you invite a varied group of speakers with different levels of experience, areas of expertise and backgrounds (avoid a ‘cookie cutter’ panel who will echo each other’s opinions – there’s nothing is more yawn-worthy than that!). 

However, you should also ensure your panelists all have a common element that connects them to each other (good chemistry is the key to a successful, engaging panel). Usually, those working in a similar industry or speaking on a similar topic will be able to bounce ideas off each other and conversations will flow freely.

Tip 2) Make sure you have a FAB facilitator!

There’s nothing like a great facilitator to bring your panel together, make them feel at ease and bring their own expert opinions to the conversation. Your facilitator should be experienced in engaging a crowd, but also able to guide conversation rather than dominate it (after all, it’s a panel not a solo show!).  We are so stoked to have Graeme Lewsey (the CEO of VAMFF) facilitating our event – talk about the best in the business!

Tip 3) Do your research

When approaching potential speakers and facilitators for your event, make sure you do your background research. Be familiar with their business, and search for other interviews they may have already done to explore topics they’re comfortable and confident talking about. VAMFF’s Ideas Program is a renowned environment to share innovative ideas around the fashion industry, so approaching speakers from fashion businesses and organisations who we knew were industry trailblazers was crucial.

Putting together some potential topics and questions you’d like to cover is also a great way to show your potential panelists what they could talk about, and help them prepare some scenarios to share. Your panelists can never be too prepared, so even providing them with your full list of questions prior to the event is a good way to put them at ease and gives them the chance to prepare some answers in advance.

Tip 4) Make in-person invaluable

Live events offer many opportunities that online webinars just can’t match – the chance to network with fellow attendees and panelists, have questions answered face-to-face, as well as enjoy the charm and community of a special venue (perhaps with a few drinks and nibbles as well!). Make the most of your event by adding in plenty of networking time and icebreaker activities to encourage attendees to make the most of it. Consider including a good old fashioned door prize under a lucky attendee’s chair, or include light refreshments before or after the event. We’ve had so many compliments about the impressive ‘grazing tables’ and free-flowing prosecco we provide at our events – these are from The Grazing Fox Melbourne (who we’ll also be using for our next event!)

Tip 5) Build some HYPE!

There’s nothing like the words ‘limited or exclusive’ to get fashion-lover hearts racing everywhere, and the same can be said about events! Having a limited number of tickets (which means deciding not to fill your venue to the absolute brim) is a tasteful way to ensure your event is exclusive and attractive. Phasing ticket sales is also a chic way to add excitement and reward your eager early birds with discounts. Make sure to tell your potential attendees there’s only a limited number of tickets, and as a rule of thumb, keep it intimate. 

Tip 6) Capture the day

A serious perk of holding events is being able to capture some vibrant, authentic content on the day! Be sure to arrange a professional photographer (or even someone with a good smartphone) to snap and film key speakers and behind-the-scenes shots. Before the event, meet with the designated photographer and develop a plan for the photography. An obvious (but frequently overlooked) part of this step is defining the objective of the footage – how it will be used and who the target audience will be.

Examples of this could be creating a ‘hype reel’ to promote your next event, taking high res imagery to use on your website, or social media content to attract more followers. Brainstorm an achievable video and photography brief, and get creative! Also note that if you’re filming speakers or attendees, you’ll need their consent to share the footage.

View our footage from the last SYFB Live event.

Tip 7) Get social!

Having an event hashtag is a great way to gain followers from your event and ensure anyone who’s taking photos is tagging your business. Try running a competition for anyone who tags the event, or upload an album to Facebook and invite attendees to tag themselves. This is also an effective way to generate some genuine FOMO (fear of missing out) for those who didn’t make it (it’s a powerful, powerful thing!)

Tip 8) Run laps around their expectations!

There’s nothing better than attending an event and leaving feeling excited, inspired and buzzing from the amazing speakers, attendees and atmosphere. As an organiser, you should ensure your attendees not only enjoy the speakers and content, but they also have a chance to network and mingle. If you follow the steps above, you’ll be well on the way to delivering an amazing event that people will be talking about for all the right reasons. In the end, you want everyone to feel like they learned something truly valuable. Plan thoroughly, focus on the details and don’t be afraid to get creative – and your event will be a success!

Book your spot for the VAMFF Ideas Program 2020!