Fashion Week is quickly approaching, but don’t panic! I’m here to give you the tools you need to survive your first fashion week from the invitation through the after party. At first glance, the procession of fashion buyers, bloggers, editors and industry experts heading into glamorous events can be intimidating, especially if you’ve seen The Devil Wears Prada, but there are two things you should keep in mind. The first being that you should not believe everything you see in movies, but more importantly, if you are prepared, professional, and confident, fashion week is an amazing opportunity to network and gain industry experience.
First things first: How to get in. Full disclosure, the fashion industry is all about who you know, so establishing a name for yourself and solidifying relationships prior to fashion week is essential. This is especially true since many shows are invitation only. Designers want to create buzz at their presentations, which means inviting celebrity guests, renowned publications, and influencers. That being said, securing a seat for yourself does not have to be mission impossible.
If you’re a student or just starting out in the industry, a great way to jump into fashion week is through volunteering. Students and freelancers are able to help prep the show by setting up, running check-in, helping with seating and any other BTS tasks. In addition to working closely with the brand and PR people, you’ll normally be able to watch the show! I always recommend this route to students or people just starting in the industry.
As for most people in the industry, like myself, I receive RSVP through emails and decide if I want to attend or not. This will be my 5th NYFW season this February and I have been able to make connections through my previous magazine jobs, the blog, industry friends and now working at StyleCaster. I also have worked with the creative and styling team with Alice + Olivia the past two years on their show.
If all else fails, there are two actions that can be taken as a last resort. First, and probably the most obvious option, is buying tickets online. Be aware that SOME (and I repeat, only some) shows are open to the public and have ticket sales up to a month prior, but industry events are exclusive to those, you guessed it, working in the fashion industry. The shows that are open to public are normally smaller, indie shows, student showcases or charity events. It is not a bad idea to start checking the official fashion week schedule a month prior to see what is available (see here), but shows are added up until the week it all takes place. Also be sure to check out public shows on Eventbrite (see here)! Some designers will opt to showcase their work in unconventional public spaces where passersby can catch a glimpse of their creations. I’ve seen shows in high-profile areas such as the steps in Times Square, as well as streets outside of Soho storefronts.
Okay so you’re in, great! Now what?
Calling my fellow bloggers, this is your chance to pull out your phone, cameras, and any other equipment you deem necessary for taking the best photos. Some brands may work out contracts for social coverage, so be sure to capture enough content for whatever instagram pictures, stories, or blog posts you will be putting together at the end of the week.
Sometimes brands will take business a step further and offer behind the scenes access, in which case, the challenge that is gathering quality material is made much easier. As for the editors and stylists, fashion week is the equivalent of a mood board for the next season of photoshoots and feature articles. Pulling pieces to be featured in your work for the next season is crucial!
As easy as it is to spend the duration of the show taking pictures, this is also the time to be talking to fellow attendees. I know what you’re thinking, approaching people in fashion can be intimidating. Think about it this way—you are in a room surrounded by people who share the same interests as you. You may end up bonding with the person in the seat next to you over your mutual love for maximalist style (true story), and that person may be a valuable contact for you in the future, as long as you remember to swap the business cards you brought with you (because you are a professional and you come prepared), or share social media accounts or emails directly.
Free Press: Two of my favorite words. Keep an eye out for cameras during fashion shows! If a brand has a photo station set up for guests, have your picture taken! They will most definitely be posted on one of their platforms, and all you have to do is smile and wait for it to be released. In addition to deliberate photo-ops, make yourself aware of cameras during the show. Have you ever noticed that you see the same guests in the back of every shot? I know these coveted seats are not easy to come by unless you are Anna Wintour, but if you can get in the frame, by all means do so!
Contrary to popular belief, there is more to fashion week than the shows. Be aware of special events for influencers and media between shows. This is a prime opportunity to talk to people you may not have had a chance to meet during the main events, especially since the shows themselves are typically only 30 minutes long. Most of the networking you will be doing takes place at these events, or moments before and after the presentation. That being said, it is just as important to make sure you haven’t overbooked yourself as it is to attend in the first place. I know you are eager to attend as many shows as possible, consequently causing you to forget factors like travel time between shows, and you know…sleep, but it is much better to show up to shows relaxed, and with time to spare.
An important thing to keep in mind during fashion week madness is that it is easy to build up events this momentous in your mind. If this is your first experience with a fashion show, you may feel uneasy in a new environment where people seem to know one-another already. You may even start questioning all of those fashion week recap articles you read in Vogue for preparation. That’s normal! Your first fashion week is a lot like your first week at a new job, it will take some getting used to. Remember while these events are work, you should still be able to enjoy yourself, after all, you are a guest!