New York Fashion Week can be celebratory, evocative, aspirational and awe-inspiring. It can also be chaotic, stressful and exhausting, particularly if you are an industry professional with lots of shows on your daily calendar. Still, every season all the hard work makes sense when you discover that new talent or are inspired by an exquisite collection that puts all the pieces together beautifully.
With New York Fashion Week: The Shows spring 2017 just a week away, Fashion Reverie sat down with James Murray, President of Supreme Publicity, and spoke with him about the exegesis of his burgeoning fashion PR firm and his projections for Supreme Publicity’s clients for the upcoming season. Never one to mince words, James Murray candidly detailed the challenges and triumphs of Supreme Publicity, and why he is so good at what he does!!
Fashion Reverie: How did Supreme Publicity come into being?
James Murray: My background is in luxury. That said; I did fashion public relations for Seventh House PR for about a year and before I was with Seventh House PR I was with Gucci and Versace. Being that I have been in public relations for luxury houses and brands for some time I always had this plan to help newer, smaller luxury brands move forward. Unfortunately, a lot of these smaller luxury brands don’t have the resources to properly present their product to a wider audience. And, far too many of them fall through the cracks, so to speak, because they lack the resources and proper direction and strategy.
When I launched Supreme Publicity I wanted the agency to be different from any other fashion PR agency in New York City. I wanted to bring the latest and the greatest to the forefront of fashion. I started with one client and three months later I had seven clients.
FR: How long has Supreme Publicity been on the scene?
James Murray: Supreme Publicity launched in April 2015. So, we are about eighteen months old.
FR: How is Supreme Publicity different from other fashion PR firms in New York City?
James Murray: We are different in a lot of ways. We look at the individual needs of each client and come up with a specific strategy for each client that fit their individual needs. Most fashion PR firms fall into a pattern of treating their fashion clients the same with very little customization. Supreme Publicity realizes that each client has different goals and projections, so we cater to that.
Keeping Supreme Publicity as a boutique agency gives us the opportunity to give our clients the attention they really need. We also help our clients with everything from sales to consulting to even suggestions on what they should be focusing on from one collection and season to the next based on what their clients or potential audiences want. In fact, I would define Supreme Publicity as a brand-building factory.
FR: How are you helping brands that are not well known achieve market recognition in an environment that is oversaturated with so many brands?
James Murray: One of the challenges that we sometimes encounter with our clients is helping them find that balance between their vision and market viability. Sometimes we have clients that have collections that are couture but not necessarily retail friendly or marketable. So, our vision is to consult with clients from the very beginning and bring to them information we have acquired from trend and market forecasters and help them bring to market a fashion line that has its own distinct design aesthetic, but also has retail value.
Within a short amount of time we have developed a reputation of having clients that have garments that are very editorial. Some of the top fashion publications come to us looking to feature those garments in their print and online editorials. We want to continue to be able to provide that service to Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire and other publications. At the same time, we want those clothes to be accessible to consumers. We spend a lot of time assisting our clients in finding that delicate balance and finding the right promotional strategy.
FR: Who are some of the new clients you’ve recently acquired for the spring 2017 season?
James Murray: We recently signed Malan Breton who has been in the industry for over a decade. Malan is at a point in his career where his brand has a lot of licensing opportunities. Supreme Publicity is focusing on giving his brand more market viability.
We also recently signed Pritch London, a sexy innovative brand from London, which is now tapping into US markets. Their clothes are more contemporary and mainstream with separates that every woman would want; great crop tops, leather jackets, and slacks. Their price points range from $150 to more expensive items that are a part of their bespoke line. Their ready-to-wear line is at a higher-end price point but very well made and fashion forward.
Just Drew, designed by Andrew Warren, an up-and-coming NYC socialite who is connected to all the high society girls, is a new acquisition. The line is very young, fresh and modern. His design aesthetic is meant for making everyone feels like an “It” girl whether you live in NYC, Beverly Hills, or Kentucky. The line is about bringing the young socialite girl from major international fashion capitals and making that aesthetic available to everyone.
Sterling King is a luxury jewelry line. We signed her about five weeks ago and Supreme Publicity has already done desk sides with Vogue and WWD with the brand. The jewelry is unlike anything on the market right now. The jewelry is very wearable but highly creative with lots of standout pieces.
FR: And your older clients.
James Murray: We have had DAMNsel since our inception. They were very successful with the “Pussy Pouch,” which has been worn by a host of celebrities. The theme of their new collection is college campus rape cases. DAMNsel designs to challenge society and cause reflection. It is controversial in a political sense while still being high fashion. It is made to evoke conversation and create a stir.
We continue to represent Ev Bessar who has a raw, edgy aesthetic. Her debut collection was launched for fall 2016 and she was named by the New York Times as one of the new, young designers on the rise for New York Fashion Week.
Rinat Brodach has been with us for about five months. We dressed Twilda Swinton in her garments. She has recently been featured in British Vogue and pulled by Patty Wilson. She is getting a lot of traction in the market.
FR: How do you acquire clients?
James Murray: I do get referrals on a weekly basis. But I am very selective with who I bring on. I have to really believe in a product and see market value in the brand in order to represent them. That said; most of the clients I have brought on I scouted using my own process. Supreme Publicity wants clients that have something special to say and have that “It” factor.
FR: What reward is there in getting your clients’ clothes on celebrities?
James Murray: A celebrity placement is one of the top-tier placements you can get for a brand. Media is so fueled with celebrities that product placement with celebrities is extremely important. That said; not every brand works for every celebrity, so at Supreme Publicity we target certain celebrities for our clients. We are very careful which celebrities appear in our client’s garments.
When we placed the “Pussy Pouch” on Beyonce, that placement became very lucrative for DAMNsel. The images were everywhere and on the video went viral.
FR: How important is product placement in print and online publications, as well as film, television and music videos?
James Murray: Product placement is really important. Product placement works best in online publications like vogue.com, style.com, and others. When you can get a product placement on a site like vogue.com we can link to the designer’s e-commerce site and we can potentially get all of the audience from vogue.com. When a brand is more established, product placement in television and film is really great, but it doesn’t work that well for new, emerging brands.
FR: Can you give us a little preview for New York Fashion Week: The Shows (NYFWS) spring 2017?
James Murray: One of our biggest shows will be with Rinat Brodach, who is based out of New York. It is a highly anticipated show, totally out of the box. She is one of our most innovative designers when it comes to construction and silhouette.
We are presenting Malan Breton in New York and London for spring 2017, as well as a presentation in New York for Just Drew.
We are also trying to change the typical fashion presentation. Many of the presentations during Fashion Week are just dull and listless. Supreme Publicity wants to change that. We want to make these presentations more of an exciting event.
FR: What process are you using to produce these shows for NYFWS?
James Murray: Some of our brands are launching in New York City for the first time during NYFWS. We have some accessories brands that are collaborating with clothing brands launching during NYFWS. We are not producing the typical presentation that most industry professional experience during Fashion Week. That has been done before ad nauseum. We are working with some very interesting brands that have unique and intricate visions and Supreme Publicity wants to give industry professionals an experience.
When we coordinating and planning shows for our brands we don’t release the date and time of the shows until IMG and the CFDA release the fashion calendar for that particular season. We want to make sure that our clients are perfectly situated on the fashion calendar so that they get the most amount of press.
FR: Many new brands prefer a runway show to a static presentation because it seems more glamorous. However, sometimes a presentation works better for a new brand than a runway show. How do convince a new brand which mode of presentation works best for them?
James Murray: Because of the hype around a runway show, young designers tend to lean to that mode of expression; however, presentations are more ideal for a new brand because presentations give editors and stylists more extended time to see the collection as opposed to a runway show that lasts about 11 minutes.
It is very important for a new brand to showcase their design aesthetic and the clothes in the collection. Too often new brands get caught up in the scene or they hype of a runway show that often times is not valuable to the brand. A presentation that could lasts up to two hours gives editors, stylists and industry professionals an opportunity to develop a one-on-one relationship with the clothing. With a presentation, industry professional can really begin to understand the DNA of the brand and have more of an experience. We also want give people as much time with the clothes as possible.
FR: How do you decide which industry professionals to invite to your clients’ shows/ presentations during NYFWS?
James Murray: I get thousands of requests for invites to my clients’ shows. Supreme Publicity has a binder with notes on all the publications, print and online, that request invites. Three weeks before Fashion Week we send out the invites. We are very aware of the show crashers and the folks we want to just be a part of the scene but bring nothing to my clients. For the most part, they are denied access.
Additionally, we are only work with bloggers that have a huge following and are on a certain level. That said; Supreme Publicity only invites editors, stylists, VIPs and industry professionals that have a certain sophistication. We like a good mix of industry professionals and we like to work with people that we have worked with before. It is a very targeted process. Ninety percent of my job is putting my clients in front of the right people.
I know fashion PR firms that open their clients’ shows to the general public and it turns into a party, which can be celebratory and fun; however, at Supreme Publicity we are more focused on press and market recognition for our clients than entertaining the general public.
I have seen lots of club kids at fashion shows just kind of hanging out. If that works for that particular brand, so be it, but it not what Supreme Publicity is about!!
FR: What is your five-year projection for Supreme Publicity?
James Murray: One of our goals is to expand to Los Angeles and other fashion capitals. Celebrities are so important to the fashion industry now, so having a presence in LA is essential.
We still want to remain a boutique agency. Supreme Publicity is not interested in acquiring 50 clients. You really cannot do your best work when you have so many clients. And for us, the client is our raison d’etre!!
For more information on Supreme Publicity, go to supremepublicity.com.
—William S. Gooch