Earlier this week, fashion PR powerhouse KCD announced a new partnership with London-based creative firm Spring.
Spring, which was founded as a photo studio and is now billed as a “studio complex and multichannel creative agency”, is run by folks with some serious fashion cred of their own: Robin Derrick, who was the creative director at Vogue UK and Armani, and Robin Harvey, who was the founding creative director of Net-a-porter. Under the Spring umbrella (divisions include Spring Creative, Spring Creative services, and soon-to-launch Spring New York) the firm develops advertising and multimedia campaigns for high profile clients like Target and Louis Vuitton. Remember that Harper’s Bazaar redesign? That was them too.
The idea behind the partnership is that as clients begin to have new and greater demands–for digital strategy, launching e-commerce, social media, etc–KCD wants to be able to address those needs under one roof. Previously, they’d have to approach different agencies to tackle specific tasks that didn’t fall under their expertise. With Spring, KCD can be a one stop shop for fashion brands. As a result of the partnership, Spring will open a 120,000 square foot complex in New York in March, and KCD will set up shop in London.
As the fashion and media landscape shifts dramatically towards digital, KCD has always been at the forefront of keeping up. They worked with Fashion GPS to set up a system to track samples and keep track of RSVPs for fashion shows and events. Of course, now everyone uses Fashion GPS. And they introduced digital only fashion shows earlier this year in a way that truly takes into account everything an editor would need to know (looks from the front, back, run of show information, etc). It’s almost better than schlepping to the tent and fighting through the street style scrums.
So we hopped on the phone with KCD co-President Ed Filipowski to ask him about this new partnership, what it means for KCD, and the PR firm’s plans for the future.
Fashionista: So how did this partnership come about?
Ed Filipowski: Last September, Julie, my partner, and I realized that our Paris office, which is our European headquarters, had grown to be such a successful business that perhaps it was time to look at how we could capitalize on its presence and look into growth in Europe and the UK so we hired a strategic consultant, Nan Richards who used to work for Turner Broadcasting in Europe and under saw the roll out of CNN. That’s sort of how this all began. It led to this wonderful journey and sense of discovery about what was going on in the industry. There’s been so much talk these last few years, so much talk and panic about the changing landscape and how media’s changing and how fashion is changing and a lot of scrambling and questioning of how agencies and in-house communication teams do their jobs in this environment. I think the thing we discovered through this process is that maybe the traditional format of a PR agency singularly focusing on obtaining media coverage, of just getting placements, it wasn’t enough. We needed to provide a broader range of services to it’s clients.
What kind of services? What new needs were you seeing?
I started to see that our workload in the last two years has shifted to 60% digital based. That’s definitely true with my PR teams here in New York and Paris. I’ve started to see in new business meetings or strategy meetings with clients it’s not enough to focus on a PR plan, but you have to be able to connect the dots with a whole communication plan that involves digital and events.
So enter Spring–but why them?
Their base, their core, is fashion–just like us. They speak the same language. They see everything from the point of view of fashion, and so do we.
So with Spring, what kinds of services will you now be able to provide to clients?
A lot of our clients, the younger, newer designers, will talk to us about a web initiative or that they’re ready to develop e-commerce and they talk to us about who they want to work with and now we can not only talk with them but be able to say, this is how we think you should do it and we can work with Spring to develop it and execute it and then to do the PR plan for it.
One thing I’m developing is starting to develop a digital portal between our London office and our Paris headquarters so our UK editors would have information that is tailored for the clients that we represent in the UK. So by going onto this portal, editors could see all our clients from our Paris, samples available, arrange Skype interviews with designers, see information on what stores these designers sell in the UK. So if I wanted Philip Lim to be interviewed by Ten Magazine, and on this portal there would be a Skype section where Philip could get on to Skype with them for 10 minutes to do interview, how genius is that?
I’m looking to create these digital links between our Paris headquarters and our satellite offices, the first of which will be in London.
Does that mean you’re thinking of adding more satellite offices?
Yes. It might take another 25 years. (Laughs) But yes, possibly yes.
Click through to see a gallery of images of what’s to come: