I've been covering New York Fashion Week now for six years/12 seasons as both print and online media, and in the process have picked up a few tips, tricks, and secrets to navigating fashion week while maintaining your sanity and overall well-being. Although its only eight days long, with shows practically every hour on the hour from 9am-9pm and locations all over the city, it can be stressful and exhausting, with little time left to write. Below I've compiled some helpful tips I've picked up over the years to help both bloggers new to New York Fashion Week, as well as the old pros.
Tip #1) Getting Show Invites
Your best bet is to register with IMG for accreditation — give them as much information as you can about the site, sending in color-printed writing samples from the site that are relevant fashion week (designer q&as, trend reviews, collection reviews, etc). This way the PR contacts for the designers have your info and vice versa! If you're nervous about applying or don't feel so established that you may not be approved that's okay, there's still hope! I recommend going to Modem Online and using their press contacts page to get the contact/PR information for the designers that are showing and the presentations or shows you'd like to attend – this site has a pretty extensive list of accurate press information. Send a customized, professional cover letter requesting an invite and explain what your site does and why you'd like toprodive coverage. Don't forget to include links from your site, other websites or publications you may have provided fashion coverage. and give them some stats about your site, even if its just mentioning the demographic or how the site is rapidly growing, etc. Chances are you'll at least get a few invites this way — you just have to let the PR reps know that you're out there in the online fashion community and interested in their brand/designer.
Tip #2) Writing about the Shows/Presentations
Now that you've got a few shows under your belt and excited to be covering New York Fashion Week, you've got to find some time, and a place, to write! Most likely you'll have some down time in between shows, which is a good time to try to get some write-ups done. Unfortunately, there isn't a formal press lounge at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week at Bryant Park, so in the past I've had to make due with hovering over the few tables in the cafe area to try to plop down, sitting on the ground against a wall, or waiting until I'm exhausted out of my mind and at home around 11pm at night to write until (gasp!) 2 in the morning! There are better options though, if you don't live nearby or can run to your hotel in the vicinity.
Option #1) You can sit outside of the tents at Bryant Park with your laptop – there is free wi-fi, although the signal tends to wax and wane quite a bit.
Option #2) Head a block south, to the corner of 41st and Broadway. There you will find the Juan Valdez Cafe which is rarely crowded and has free wi-fi (!!!) or the Starbucks on the corner, which will get you a few hours of free wi-fi as long as you have a gift card used within the past 30 days and register it at Starbucks.com.
Option #3) There are several fedex-Kinkos Office locations in the area – although not an ideal solution since you have to pay per minute to use the computers, your shoulders and back will thank you from not having to lug around your laptop and all of those free products!
Option #4) HauteLook.com is sponsoring a lounge in the Bryant Park Hotel from September 10th-15th for bloggers and free wi-fi provided by Sony — there hasn't been many details about the lounge available yet, but I'm sure if you google around closer to fashion week you'll find further info!
(Note: In need of images for your posts? Everyone knows about Style.com's fashion reviews, but they don't cover everything; I strongly recommend New York Magazine and Elle.com – just be sure to give the proper site a photo credit.)
Tip #3) Make it Known That You're Covering Fashion Week!
If possible, its great to be timely with your posts to help boost search traffic, but there are other ways of getting the word out there that you're live at fashion week and posting about what you see. Now in its third season, InsideTheTents.com is an aggregator of fashion week content provided by its approved members with feeds pulling the info in from the members' blogs and Twitter feeds – all one has to do is give appropriate posts a hashmark of #NYFW. The site also provides behind the scenes look at fashion week and designer interviews. Click here to apply for membership. Also, remember those PR contacts you emailed? If you write about the brand/designer they represent, don't wait for them to find your post — send them a follow up email with the link to the post – they'll sure appreciate it, and most likely add you to their press contacts (which means potential consideration for future shows/events).
Tip#4) Don't Forget to Take Care of Yourself!
The thumping music, amazing fashion, celebs — fashion week can be a lot of fun and very exciting, throwing your normal schedule completely out the window. During fashion week my diet consists of 6 espressos/day, a croissant, and maybe a salad. If you're a caffeine addict like myself, there is always a coffee-related sponsor in the tents, which just encourages me to drink as much as possible! One issue: as it is a tent set up in Bryant Park, there are glorified port-a-johns as the bathroom, so less liquid, less port-a-john action, is my preference! Anyways, besides knowing where the bathrooms are (note: they shut down before the last show of the night with no forewarning so if you have to go – do it beforehand or beg The Bryant Park Hotel to let you use the bathroom in the bar), you will crash or get sick if you don't come equipped with proper nutrients ( I know from experience). The tent is surprisingly void of food, and with little time to spare and expensive food options surrounding you, its best to just provide for yourself! Bring lightweight, hearty snacks that will sustain you — granola bars, power/protein bars, trail mix, cashews — not the most delectable options, but when running around, waiting in line to check-in, waiting in line to get into a show, seeing the show, and doing it all again, you will be so thankful to just whip that snack out of your bag! Also, there's a lot of temperature change and standing/sitting a little too close for comfort to people during these events, and last thing you want is to fall victim to a cold. You'll always be able to get a free bottle of water at the tents, so carrying around a few packets of Emergen-C will be your saving grace – I promise!
[Ed. Note: Except the IFB party… don't skip that! Will be announcing Monday]
Tip #5) Skip the Parties, Not the Shows
[Ed. Note: Except the IFB party… don't skip that! Will be announcing Monday..]
It's very, very, enticing to be invited to VIP parties, after-parties for designers, and the countless open bars during fashion week, but if you're truly covering fashion week for your blog and/or other sites, skip the parties, or reserve them for weekends-only. I feel like an old person saying this (and I'm in my mid-twenties), but its near-impossible to keep up with the fashion week schedule, write, and party at the same time. Once I went to a party, and was so tired the next day I had to skip the 9am show. I didn't think it was a big deal, but the following season, the PR contact said to me “We gave you a seat last season and you didn't show up – are you definitely going to show up this year?” Wow – I was caught off guard and embarrassed that someone was actually paying attention to little old me! So my tip for this is that if you've RSVP'ed to attend and can't make it to a show because you're tired, or have double-booked that time, etc, and know this at least 12 hrs in advance, get someone to at least go in your place. Through IFB there are plenty of bloggers in the network that you can offer your invite!
If anyone else has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them! Please post below in the comments. Have a great fashion week, bring plenty of business cards to hand out, be friendly (you never know who you're taking to or sitting next to), and don't forget the Emergen-C!