My first fashion week experience was at Bryant Park in 2005. When I started my career, I would travel to New York to volunteer for the shows. It was hard work, but worth it to see the runway collections afterwards. I did this for a few seasons before returning as a fashion publicist. Now, I attend through Style Calling and the various publications I write for. Whenever I’m at Fashion Week, I still have that pinch me moment. It’s such an incredible experience to be in the audience of a beautiful show.
I often get asked, ‘How do you get into the shows?’ It is an invite only event, but if you’re in a city for fashion week, and you truly want to see shows, it’s possible. Firstly, you have to prove to the brand that you’re worth giving a spot to. It’s not just about instagram numbers. Planning ahead, working your network, and being strategic is all a part of making your fashion week trip successful.
In Part 2 of my Fashion Week Tips series, I’m talking about show requests. How they work, who to email and what to do when you’re starting out.
The Show Schedule
If it’s your first season attending, be prepared for the schedule you plan. There are lots of events, parties and presentations during fashion week, many that come up last minute. Make sure you can attend every appointment you confirm. It’s easy to overpack a schedule, and forget to include lunch breaks or moments to enjoy the city you’re in.
Planning ahead is key to a successful fashion week. Every show, every appointment and every presentation is scheduled prior to arriving in the city. Create a calendar and print it off to have on hand, as well as a digital version. Having a hardcopy is so important during a busy fashion week, in a foreign city. It will make mistakes and double booking yourself less likely.
Your show request to attend is sent to the public relations team. Every show will require you to send a different show request, to a different publicist. Ensure you keep a list of who you have emailed. Do your research on the PR company. Many will be doing multiple shows. Double check you are requesting the right designer for that PR contact. This is a crucial part in organizing your show schedule.
Please note: You can find the PR company information for each brand via Google. I’m not going to post the exact link. That is the job of someone who truly wants to attend that designer’s show.
Every show request, especially the ones in Europe will require you to send a physical location address. If your request is successful, the shows in London, Milan and Paris will send you a physical invitation. There will still be a digital invite, but the hard copies make accessing the show on the day a lot easier. New York shows uses Fashion GPS to track all RSVPS, and some of the bigger shows will send an invitation in the mail. Some hotels will charge for receiving mail, and some accommodation like Air BNB do not let you receive mail. Check this in advance, and find a secure place to have all your mail received.
Often you need to follow up on show requests closer to the date. Remember, you’re emailing a person not just a random RSVP account. Yes, the address probably seems generic, but behind each email is someone on the PR team who is making decisions on who gets to attend the show. They receive hundreds, if not thousands of requests. Be polite in this email request, thank them for their time, and be sure to include a link to your blog or instagram.
Make it personal
When I first started out, many of the shows I got invited to were through some sort of personal connection. Whether it was knowing the PR person, someone who worked for the brand, or simply that the designer was Canadian. One of the first shows I attended during London Fashion Week was Steven Tai. When researching him, I found out he was from Vancouver. I wrote a show request and included I was coming from Vancouver to LFW. Steven himself wrote back and invited me to the show! It was a good reminder of how important it is to do your research, and show the person checking the requests why you should be invited.
Do the work
If you receive an invitation, it’s important to show up, and do your job as an attendee. If you RSVP YES, check the show location and make sure it works with your schedule. The shows are often all over town and you need to account for travel time. Have your RSVP on hand, and know the designer’s username and handle. Do your part to share the show with your followers, and be sure to link back to the designer.
Build your network
Fashion Week happens every season. If they say no for this time, be gracious in your reply and say thank you for getting back to you. There’s always next season. Do your best to create amazing content for the shows you do attend, write to the publicist after and say Thank you, and send a link to your coverage.
We’re in the business of building relationships. The industry is so small. If it’s a no this season, that doesn’t make it a no for next time. Make an effort to support that designer in the next 6 months, so the following season that no is a yes!
FASHION WEEK DATES 2020
London 14 – 18 February
Milan 18 – 24 February
Paris 24 February – 3 March