Typically designers that produce one-of-a-kind pieces will host trunk shows as an affordable way to promote their line. The word "trunk" in this concept comes from the fact that the designer arrives with their clothing line in a special trunk, which they can easily set up and display for the group of consumers and/or buyers to view.
Oftentimes the select group of people at trunk shows are in charge of buying merchandise for department and boutique stores. Most of the time, the events are by invite only. There are a couple of reasons why designers use trunk shows as a method of exposure. Such reasons include but are not limited to the following:
- It give clients a sneak peek at their newest fashions before they go on sale and become available to the public.
- It offers clients/buyers the chance to pre-order or directly purchase certain clothing items at the trunk show.
- It allows designers to get consumer feedback on their line and whether or not it would be successful.
- It gives designers the chance to find out which pieces they should mass produce if the feedback from the trunk show is positive and vice-versa.
Sometimes trunk shows use models and sometimes they don't. For the ones that do, the models show up to the venue with the designer and simply wear the designated outfits and then model them for the group. Because trunk shows mainly take place in intimate settings, this means modeling in front of a much smaller group of individuals instead of a large crowd. Additionally, there is not a runway for the model to strut his/her stuff on. Instead they may simply walk out in the outfit and stand in front of the group, while the designer or sales rep explains what he/she is wearing. They may walk a bit or they may only be required to stand and turn around to show all views of the clothing.
In terms of pay, trunk shows don't normally pay big bucks because the designers participating in these events are often on tight budgets. However, it is not uncommon for models to do trunk shows in exchange for a free clothing item of their choice, a gift certificate or discounted price on an outfit they want to purchase. The actual pay a model could receive would more than likely be $100, more or less. Models working trunk shows for huge designers that are well known are likely to make more money. The time commitment for trunk show modeling could be a half day or a full day--it depends on where the venue for the show is and how many outfits the designer wants you to wear.
Doing trunk shows are great for exposure and networking so they're worth signing up for if you get asked to be in one. It adds to the resume of experience and if you work well with the designer, it could lead to future opportunities to model more of their designs in photoshoots, fashion shows, etc.