The mistake: not using fashion to engage consumers.

Fashion and design collaborations are one of the most effective ways for brands to market their products to the leading trendsetters and influencers who closely follow – and lead – current fashion trends.

Fashion partnerships result in an enhanced image and an overall sense of innovation and hipness for the brand. These partnerships are typically different enough to cut through the clutter, capture consumer interest, attract the press, and generate consumer buzz. In fact, like music, fashion is one of the most popular categories worldwide in terms of online consumer interest as it also transcends culture and breaks down barriers.

Fashion events and content are no longer limited to fashion brands—today you’ll see brands of all kinds using fashion, ranging from the titled Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, Subway’s runway dress made of wraps, Mot & Chandon on the Golden Globes Red Carpet, to Intel and HP’s multi-year partnership with fashion-themed television series Project Runway.

A fashion initiative can take the brand to the next level and give the consumer the impression that it seems out-of-the-box and sophisticated. It is important to remember that there must be a rhyme or reason behind the partnership. By looking at the brand’s basic goals and message, a campaign that is good for both the brand and the partner will be able to find places where their messages are similar.

For savvy brands and marketers of all kinds, opportunities are available at a wide range of fees (read: very affordable to quite hefty) to create remarkable partnerships that will be noticed by both the media and consumers, while also providing content to social media that significantly stimulates media conversations. No longer do brands have to go to Paris to find success in fashion. Through one of these four platforms, almost any brand can create a successful and sales-boosting organic partnership.

Participate in fashion events

There are fashion event opportunities with large-scale events, such as the “official” partnerships with Mercedes-Benz NY Fashion Week, as well as smaller Fashion Week offshoots that are often just as press-worthy and impressive, including runway shows and celebrity gifting lounges. Fashion weeks are held in cities around the world, the most prominent in the US being New York Fashion Week and Los Angeles Fashion Week, which are held twice a year, in February and September. Fashion events also include places where fashion designers show off their work or award shows that focus on celebrities and where the red carpet is often the most exciting part of the night.

Fashion events drive massive traffic and social media engagement. Based on data collected by social curation and analytics company Curalate, it was found that 100,000 related tweets and Instagram posts were shared by more than 33,000 unique users during New York Fashion Week 2013. On average, the NYFW brand’s top photos generated 37,448 interactions per photo, most of which were product-driven. Marketing campaigns are extremely effective when they take place in real time, live at an event or location. Of the 100,000+ posts that generated the most engagement, 90% were taken on the spot at NYFW.

As an example of this social success, Harman-Kardon has set up a three-day NY Fashion Week event to launch their fashion-friendly white headphones, based on their ‘beautiful sound’ platform. During and after the event, the brand’s social media traffic increased by 970%, and they received more than 19 million impressions on social media and 370 million impressions from the national press.

Work with fashion designers

Whether brands want to profile themselves as risky and groundbreaking, or more proven with a long-standing character, there are custom fitments with fashion designers and events whose personalities reflect the same prized traits. Famous and newly emerging designers provide opportunities to create sponsor partnerships and brighten up brand campaigns, trade events, or event points of sale.

• Work with Fashion TV Series

Fashion on television is a constant theme, with series devoted to covering and presenting fashion trendsNetworks such as Lifetime (Project Runway), E! (Fashion Police), Bravo (Rachel Zoe), and NBC (Access Hollywood, Extra) all offer sponsorship opportunities and options to integrate brands directly into the content. Even daily talk shows usually have a fashion segment that brands can become part of creatively. In addition, scripted series can provide the basic storylines of fashion, similar to the previous hit Sex In The City format. Most of the time, the audience is made up of wanted women between the ages of 25 and 49.

Pilot Pen has entered into a 4-month digital partnership with NBC’s Fashion Star television series. A custom fashion trivia game was developed with a grand prize trip to NY Fashion Week, supported by ad units on the NBC platform, along with the series website and print. In addition, social media sparked conversations from both the show’s designers and the brand’s fan base. The partnership reached more than 14 million people, with 184% more visits to the website than planned and 85% more people entering the lottery than planned.

Work with fashion bloggers.

Fashion bloggers provide a very strong platform to share branded fashion-driven strategies and may include consumer sampling and sweepstakes components.

Once upon a time, New York Fashion Week was just for a very exclusive group made up of the fashion elite and insiders. Today, largely with the help of fashion bloggers—”everyday” girls who have managed to become big influencers—everything is much more accessible with greater public appeal. In fact, fashion-over technology, food, sports, and travel-is one of the most popular blogging categories, with 3 million Google searches per day, second only to music.

The right strategic alignment within the fashion world can elevate and enhance a brand’s image while gaining a following that is enthusiastic and eager to engage online. To make a relevant and meaningful partnership, it’s important to work with experts in the field who know the landscape and can help you figure out how your brand can work well with a fashion initiative and make it a success.