When conducting a photo shoot, the key to making it successful -- unless it is for a personal portfolio -- is to represent a number of retailers in the shots. A common practice is to "borrow" clothing from a designer or retailer for models to wear in the shoot. However, there's more to this process than picking up the phone and asking for the clothing. You must generally provide a letter that states the purpose of the shoot, your credentials and how long the clothing will be needed, among other information.
Identify the proper contact person in the company to which you are writing. Otherwise, your letter may get lost being passed around from person to person. You can generally identify the marketing or public relations person on the company's website or in written collateral, like a press release, if you have one. Address the letter to the right contact and identify yourself and your organization.
Explain the concept behind the photo shoot. For example, if the shoot is about Western chic fashion, then it makes sense why you are requesting denim jeans from the company in question. If the concept is somewhat unique, such as bathing suits and ski wear, then explain your thinking behind the shoot and how your shoot will benefit the clothing company in terms of exposure.
State your credentials. Bottom line: clothing companies aren't going to send their clothing to just anybody for just any photo shoot. There must be a marketing value in it for the company and the exposure must be wide-reaching. Moreover, your credentials are what makes the company comfortable sending you the product to use in the shoot. In most instances, you must work for an established publication to get clothing for a shoot. Some companies will lend clothing to photographers and fashion show coordinators, depending on the scale of the event. Clothing companies may send samples to models if the photo shoot will be published.
Detail a timeline for the shoot regarding use of the clothes. Tell the company when you need the clothes, and how long you intend to keep them. Provide the name of the person responsible for the clothing, and depending on the amount of clothing provided, a credit card number in the event that the clothing is not returned or damaged during the shoot.
Provide a date when you will send copies of the photos from the shoot. This is important because the company needs to see proof that the clothing was used the way that you said it would be. Taking this step will establish you as a credible individual, and establish a reference that you can utilize for future sample requests.