For fundraising events, a fashion auction is one of the most popular options. This is because a lot of charitable organizations get support from important designers (especially now that social impact is a strong movement in the business world) and have generous patrons who are more than willing to contribute pieces from their stylish collections.
But apart from that, fashion auctions always have a high potential for success because they have an established audience. They attract everybody — from fashionable individuals to collectors, professional stylists, and even museum curators.
Indeed, if your organization is thinking of a fundraiser that will perform well in reaching your cause’s goals, a fashion auction is an excellent choice because of its high-income potential.
However, to ensure the best outcome, creative and thorough planning is a must. Here are nine tips that can help:
1. Find interesting items
Come up with a list of fashion items that are sure to attract your target audience. According to auction specialists, the following pieces are much sought after by fashion auction goers:
- Costumes or outfits (or their recreations) from popular movies and TV shows such as Benedict Cumberbatch’s coat in “Sherlock ” or Peter Capaldi’s “Dr. Who” coat
- Iconic fashion items (and even their recreations) such as James Dean’s leather jacket, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” jacket, Audrey Hepburn’s little black dress from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, and Alicia Silverstone’s yellow plaid ensemble in “Clueless”
- Limited edition footwear, originals and copies
- Custom-made fine jewelry from famous people’s collections
- Vintage designer handbags
2. Curate items thoroughly
Go through all of the items in the most organized fashion. This will help you categorize all the pieces effectively for the event. With a meticulously organized selection, you will be able to boost the appeal of all the biddable items.
3. Create an engaging ambiance
For fashion auctions, it’s imperative to pay attention to the ambiance. Make it engaging and fun for everyone. Auction organizers say that when the atmosphere is just right, bidders are not only more active but bolder as well.
In such events, full engagement can make a whole world of difference. So, factor in on the various components that can create a positive vibe and encourage everyone to act toward achieving the goal of the event.
4. Choose a fun auctioneer
The auctioneer plays a vital role in securing the engagement of bidders. So, make sure to hire one who has a lot of experience and can even bring artistry to their work. After all, fashion auctions showcase the exceptional creativity, history, and the prestige of items. It wouldn’t hurt to bring some theatrics to the bidding process. Don’t just hire someone who can say numbers quickly. You need an auctioneer who can talk up the product and keep the audience engaged.
5. Explore different formats
A fashion auction can be more successful if you work with an unexpected format for it, especially now that the audience is more diverse than ever. You have a lot of young people investing in stylish items, and some come to fashion auctions with different interests such as networking, or simply to have fun.
Deviating from traditional formats or programs may appeal better to them. Therefore, when you invite them to a similar event in the future, there’s a higher chance that they will be more involved. From mere spectators, they can become casual bidders, and top bidders eventually. Not only that, they may become keen on becoming donors, too.
6. Incorporate stylish decor to the event
A crucial element in creating the right ambiance for the auction is the decor. Consider working with a theme that can emphasize the goal of the event. Or, establish the value of the biddable items through the decor.
For this, get the expertise and skills of party planners or interior decorators. They know the best decor to use, such as mod geometric wallpaper for a seventies-inspired fashion auction or robin blue egg colored installations for a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” theme auction. Likewise, they can even help design a floor layout to ensure the smooth flow of the different activities of the event.
7. Create a gallery
Do consider creating a gallery for the biddable items, too. A gallery is the perfect setting for presenting a comprehensive collection of information about the biddable items. This will allow potential bidders to determine the level of their involvement in the bidding process.
At the same time, by setting up a gallery for some of the biddable items, you may actually sway the minds of those who initially came only as spectators. By reinforcing your goal message, many of them may become active bidders during the actual auction.
8. Make it a fashion show
Another smart way to display the biddable items of a fashion auction is through a fashion show. Clothing, especially, looks much better on a live person than a mannequin.
It provides a better visual of the true potential or value of a piece. People who come to the fashion auction — stylists or the stylish who need to build their fashion arsenal — should always get the idea that an item is actually wearable and useful. There’s no better way of doing that than through a fashion show.
9. Set up a smart POS system.
A point of sale system will make it so much easier for the auction clerk to keep tabs on the winning bids and record other relevant information. At the same time, this will provide your organization with data that you can use for future fashion auctions.
Today’s smart POS systems can help you gauge buying patterns and identify the people who are active in the event. Therefore, for future auctions, you can come up with a better selection of items and raise more money.
Thorough planning truly is a reliable strategy in clinching the success of an event. Nothing is too trivial when you want the best outcomes. So, hopefully, you will find all the tips shared above helpful.
And, if you still require more assistance, the good news is there are auction companies that you can hire. They will not just provide you with their expert services, but they will share their extensive know-how on how to pull off a successful fashion auction.
Darran Brown is the CEO and Founder of Go Charity. A graduate of UMASS Amherst, Darran has spent the last 20 years managing auctions across the United States. Having run some of the most successful live and silent auctions in the US, Darran has the insider know-how to every aspect of the industry. From memorabilia to trips and experience hospitality to fundraising 101, Darran is the leading expert on auction management and fundraising success.