Treat It Like Couture, Until It Is

Clothing, garments, accessories, footwear; you need it all (usually in a hurry) to do your job and getting your hands on the right clothing from the right places is not going to happen overnight, but it will happen a whole lot quicker if you, “Treat it like couture, until it is.” The kind of respect you give the clothes is the kind of respect you will get from the people giving them to you. If building relationships quick and keeping them is as at the top of your priority list; treat everything like gold, whether it’s borrowed from a local designer or from Chanel.

Starting out, resources will be slim but they will grow. It may feel like you’re hearing a lot of no’s – but what you will start hearing are repeat yeses if things are properly handled. If I’ve borrowed once, I’ve borrowed again, a designer, a showroom a retailer has never said no after working together ONE TIME. They have felt the mutual respect, they have experienced the mutual benefits. Maybe you’re starting out with fashion student samples, or new designers on the block but but these artists are giving you their babies, so handle them with care, rock them to sleep and treat them as though they came straight off Paris Fashion Week Runway. That student or new designer is going places, just like you are, and chances are you can rise together if you treat the garments with respect. Hey, once they get going, they may even hire you. So, remember, when a designer lends you a dress it’s more than a dress, it’s their love child born from hours of labour.

Same goes when a retailer trusts you with brand new garments, they plan on being able to sell them after you’re shoot is done and not on the discount rack – bring those babies back pristine or you might be losing more than connections; many designers and retailers keep credit card information on file, especially for new stylists that they have not worked with before.

“The kind of respect you give the clothes is the kind of respect you will get from the people giving them to you.”

Your reputation is EVERYTHING and when you’re hoping to build connections that will grow and last over YEARS you have got to start with the utmost courtesy and respect from the very beginning, whether you’ve pulled a tee shirt or a red carpet gown, treat it like it needs to stay new forever.

This is what I mean:

Keep it in a garment bag

Keep garment bags on hand when you’re pulling – designers usually already have them or the garments have already been packed up, but let me tell you, if you walk in with a couple of garment bags from the start, designers will know you have every intention of taking care of the garments and will view you as the real deal that you are

Use a makeup scarf

Models sometimes need to pull things over their head when changing after their makeup has been applied – do yourself a favour and use a makeup scarf, no matter how rushed the model is to get changed. You’ll make besties with the makeup artist when the lipstick doesn’t smudge and won’t need to deal with makeup marks around the neckline of every garment (doesn’t make for a pretty picture OR a happy loaner). If things are beyond busy and the odds of you being around while the talent gets changed are slim, let them know in the beginning you would appreciate them to use a makeup scarf and show them where it is kept.

Don’t let garments touch the floor

Whether they’re on a hanger, on a person or being carried around, DO NOT LET THEM TOUCH THE FLOOR. Pull the hem of a gown up and hang on a seperate hanger next to it, carry the train for the talent or hold things so that the hem doesn’t sweep the often uber dusty floor of a studio. Sometimes this can be a fun game, like when you’re carrying twelve floor length gowns, first one to have a dirty fuzzy floor hem loses …. more than the game.

Ask models and talent to change into their street clothes while eating, lunching, smoking

Kindly remind them that the clothing is borrowed

Immediately re-hang garments after they have been used

Things are going to get hectic, trust me, but it’s going to be that much more hectic if you lose or damage things, so try to re-hang ASAP as much as possible

Do not eat and handle food while handling your couture

Think about trying to explain your cheesy fingerprints before snacking and touching.

Pack carefully

If there is an especially delicate garment, maybe don’t place it on the bottom of a pile, or at the back of a garment bag where it could get crushed or damaged. Sequins like to get caught on silk and make it run, dark washed denim likes to leave its mark on lighter fabrics and crinoline and mesh have tiny holes that love to get caught on anything from rhinestones to zippers, so it’s best to keep them apart and keep similar fabrics together when packing.

Wrap delicates

Accessories with a lot of fine and delicate detail are safest when wrapped in tissue or at the top of a pile, let’s not put them at the bottom of a box and pile heavy things on top, k.

Send it back like new

Prepping garments for a shoot is a must but prepping garments for returns is just as important. Just as you would steam, lint roll and ensure perfection for the camera, must you follow the same steps for returns. Everything that I borrow goes back in the same or newer condition – there are no wrinkles, zippers are done up, everything is pressed and there are minimal if zero signs of wear – showrooms notice this, designers notice this, rental houses notice this. You will get noticed because of this.

Having access to the Chanel showroom is not going to happen overnight (literally, Paris pre-authorizes every single editorial pull ahead of time) but by the time you have reached the point of  handling some of the world’s best samples, if you already treat everything like it’s couture, it will become second nature and you will know how to handle every. single. piece. properly; you will also have built yourself a strong reputation among showrooms, designers and retailers who may just start reaching out to YOU when there are new samples available.

“Showrooms notice, designers notice, rental houses notice and you will get noticed because of this.”

It takes years to build connections, why not keep them. Remember these tidbits next time you pull and you will.

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