Ah Fashion Week.
It should really be considered a holiday for New York City.
During NYFW, it feels like the entire city participates. Suddenly you start seeing New Yorkers dressed in their finest and fiercest, models and celebrities strolling out of hotels into taxicabs, photographers trailing influencers on the street, hoping to catch the perfect street style snap. And then of course, there are the shows.
For those of us who are not blessed to be part of the fashion elite, Fashion Week can seem impenetrable. Unless you have a hefty social media following or work as an editor of a fashion magazine or a buyer for a luxury brand, your chances of getting an invitation are slimmer than a YSL model’s waistline.
However, there are a few ways you can work your way into Fashion Week without an invitation.
1. Pitch the everliving hell out of yourself.
If you don’t have the power of a well-known publication or fashion agency backing you up as a worthy of an invitation, then you need to throw your own hat in the ring and make a case for yourself.
Fashion houses have really caught on to the power of social media and they’re more open than ever to having established or emerging bloggers stream, Tweet, or post about their runway shows. If you have a blog, a Youtube Channel or an Instagram account about fashion or lifestyle, try pitching yourself as a content creator to brands or PR firms.
A month or two before Fashion Week starts, research what shows will be debuting their lines and start making a list of PR contacts at those brands, as well as fashion PR firms. Next, start cold emailing your list of contacts. Keep it short and simple – “Hi my name is so-so and I run the blog Blah Blah” and include some highlights about your brand. Bonus points if you have been featured in any other publication or gotten social media shout-outs. Definitely do no write your entire life’s story.
If you have a pretty solid following, you can apply directly for a NYFW press credential. Although the chances of getting an invite this way may not be as effective as directly contacting brands. If you do get a press credential, you do get the nifty official NYFW media pass (ooooh ahhhh).
If you’re comfortable with a digital camera, you could also apply to work as a freelance Fashion Week photographer or videographer. Many publications need extra help snapping photos of influencers or catching footage of looks down the runway.
I even have a friend who does sound mixing and DJing and he’s gotten hired to work NYFW that way. The point is – if you have a skill or a platform that you think might be worthy of a Fashion Week invite, then the only way to make it happen is to put yourself out there.
2. Go to an open-to-the-public show.
If you’re okay with not going to a show by one of the major fashion houses, there are a rising number of events that are open to the general public. These are usually showcases by emerging brands or networking events for industry
You can search for “Fashion Week free events” or “Fashion Week open to public events” in Google. Most of the event organizers post these events on Eventbrite as well. Fashion sites like Women’s Wear Daily or Fashionista.com usually post an article with a list of open-to-public events right before Fashion Week.
One well-known free fashion event that I’ve gone to is The Style Dimension, put on by Women’s Wear Daily themselves. The event normally runs more than one day and showcases panels and talks by designers and industry professionals, as well as lots of fun vendors.
3. Work backstage as a volunteer.
But for those of us who want to be part of the action but don’t have a social media following or the time to build an entire skillset, volunteering is a good option.
While bigger fashion houses tend to have their own crew and interns that they hire for shows, smaller brands will outsource help from fashion students or volunteers to help put on their shows. If you’re currently enrolled in a fashion school, chances are your school will be sending out tons of emails with different volunteer opportunities. I got the opportunity to volunteer with independent fashion label, Flying Solo, because my graduate school – LIM College – sent out an email to fashion students about the opportunity. I wrote an entire blog post talking about my experience volunteering backstage at Fashion Week.
If you’re not a current fashion student, Google will once again your best friend. There are plenty of smaller independent fashion shows happening at the same time as the official shows. Look up “Fashion week volunteer opportunities” and you’re sure to find a slew of options. Eventbrite is again a great search for volunteer opportunities, as well as AMCONYC , FYID, and CoutureFashionWeek.
Just be aware that volunteering at Fashion Week is very different than attending it. You will not be watching the show at all – you will be backstage on your feet for long hours and will likely be wearing jeans and T-shirt instead of your fiercest Fashion Week outfit. But it is a great way to network, get a glimpse of what Fashion Week is like and experience the intense rush of what it means to put on a full production fashion event.
However you choose to attend Fashion Week, you will likely have to put in some work. But, at the end of the day, it is the culmination of a year’s worth of work for many designers and is a great meeting of some of the most brilliant minds of the fashion industry. Getting to be a part of it, no matter how small the part, is an experience that is unforgettable.
Did you find any of my tips helpful? Comment below!