Tips from a Fashion Week First Timer

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by Gemma Seager/ Retro Chick

Fashion Blogs are gaining increasing amounts of recognition and acceptance and many Fashion Bloggers are making the most of it and grabbing those media credentials with both hands. This means that a lot of us are finding ourselves, for the first time, with Press Accreditation, and the opportunity to cover Fashion Week first hand.

This is the position I found myself in last week. Nervously clutching my Fast Trak print out and getting off at Temple tube, all alone. Feeling like everyone else seemed to already know each other and knew exactly what they were doing, where they were going and what to do when they got there.

What I learnt that day is that, essentially, Fashion Week is a huge trade show. Two years ago I somehow ended up at the National House Builders Exhibition in Birmingham (don’t ask) and I spent the day walking round stands while PR reps attempted to give me leaflets, mouse mats and key rings. Fashion Week is basically the same, but with less mouse mats and key rings (shame) and more air kissing and photographers.

Focus is often on the Catwalk shows. with their glamour, mystique and front row celebrity, but there is A LOT more to see. Even if you’re a blogger or buyer with a focus on more affordable fashion this is definitely a place to find out about labels and designers you might otherwise miss.

So, if it’s your first time at Fashion Week, whether you’re loaded down with show invites or just popping in for a day to get a feel for it here are some tips from another first timer.

These tips are not about getting show invites, getting a Press Pass in the first place or how to cover events, there is useful information on IFB from people far more experienced than me to help you with that. They're are about getting through your first day intact and making the most of a superb opportunity to grow your blog, make new contacts and find great new content.

London Fashion Week has come to a close so feel free to save them up for next time, though I’m sure some of them might be useful for first timers in Milan or Paris.

  • Wear flat shoes

  • There are 2 types of people at London Fashion Week. The ones that want to take photos and the ones that want their photo taken. If you are one of the former then no one really cares much what you look like except you, so you might as well be comfortable. If you feel more comfortable in heels then at least take flats with you so that when you are stood at the front of a queue for a show that is running 45 minutes late and the clipboard Nazis are running up and down ushering more important people straight to the front of the line you won’t be tempted to cry/sit on the floor/kill them with your stylishly spiky heels. I speak from experience, as I was that idiot in killer heels from 10am-8pm. So trust me, ok.

  • Take a big bag

  • As a blogger there is a lot of potentially useful information you can collect and you’ll need a bag to keep it in. Look Books, Press Packs, copies of Drapers, free chocolate (thanks Oxfam) they’re all big and heavy and need somewhere to live till you can get them home and properly assess their usefulness. You also need to carry flat shoes (see above!), phone, notebook, water and even possibly your laptop or net book.

  • Ask for help

  • At London Fashion Week there were people dressed in black, generally hovering around the info signs. They were wearing big badges that say, “HELP” (or something like that). Oddly enough they are there to help and when I finally plucked up courage to ask them a question what they didn’t do is fix me with a withering stare like I should just go home and hide behind my Laptop where I belong. They told me what I needed to know; in a pleasant chatty way and then they smiled. Weird.

  • Take plenty of Business Cards

  • I took about 10 (I mean, who cares about little old me?) and I’d run out by lunchtime. The PRs on the exhibition stands are there to make contacts just as much as you are, and they want your details, make sure you have them to give.

  • Look at the Exhibition

  • The Catwalks might sparkle with glitz and glamour, but the exhibition is stuffed with useful new discoveries that will fill your blog with interesting and unique content for the next 6 months. Each stand tends to be manned by PR people, and they don’t only represent one client. Making contacts here, even if that specific stand isn’t of massive relevance to you, could really benefit you in the future. Tell them about yourself and what you cover on your blog and give them a card.

  • Be yourself

  • Some people will be aloof, cool and moody and will demonstrate not the slightest bit of interest in discussing their product or design with you. Others are lovely, friendly, open people who want to chat with you about life, let you admire their shoes, try on their hats and form useful business relationships. Don’t try and impress the first kind, they’re not worth it, they’ve already read your badge and decided you’re not important enough to talk to. Their loss.

    Finally….

  • Remember you are an ambassador

  • I know I said be yourself, but at the same time remember that your presence at Fashion Week represents bloggers everywhere who couldn’t make it and might want to in future. Be professional, be prepared to explain what blogging is and what you cover and try not to generally treat the occasion like an opportunity to blag freebies and star spot. That way you’ll be invited back.

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    22 Responses

    1. Jillian

      Very very true all of it. Wish I had, had these tips my first time. Everything, but wearing flats… I wore heels and w/ all the free drinks I really didn’t notice and was fine, but flats would probably just be smarter for your feet, unless you are traveling by car all day!
      .-= Jillian´s last blog ..Backstage =-.

      Reply
    2. Ondo Lady

      Great advice here and written in a very funny and witty way. Just the sort of info I would have loved to have received when I was embarking on my first fashion week.
      .-= Ondo Lady´s last blog ..Sweet Valley High =-.

      Reply
    3. Lisa Barr

      My dear girl, very well said. I actually laughed a great deal while reading your entry because it’s sooo true. When I asked a friend of mine who is a model what to wear (she said to me with love of course) “it doesn’t matter what you wear, because someone will inevitable be better dressed than you are, so be comfortable.” How right she was. The first day however I looked lovely as it was my first day in the tent and ‘Anna’ and I were attending some of the same designers (I think I wanted to look nice just on the off, off, off-chance she ‘noticed me’). By the end of the day (carrying around the leaflets, WWD, business cards I collected, my own notebook) running between the tent and other fashion locations my feet hurt, my arms ached, and I was totally exhausted. I then had to come home and write about that days events with photos! The second day, FLATS and as we say in America, I was a happy camper!

      I absolutely agree with this article and especially if you ever wanted to be apart of Fashion week. Have plenty of business cards as you never know where the next job may come from. Be nice and don’t pretend to be more than you are – writers and those senior people in the industry can smell it 2miles away. Get to know the fashion bloggers as they are the future of media. If you say “I’ll email you” then do it, even if it’s a short note to say ‘nice to have met you’. Finally, your name is your brand…if you mess up once you will be remembered forever. What does that mean? The fashion industry, no matter how vast it seems is really pretty small. What you do today, what you print today, who you help today, who you step on/over/knock down today…will be remembered tomorrow.

      Gemma – EXCELLENT article and hope to see you in NY in the spring!
      .-= Lisa Barr´s last blog ..Saturday Sales, freebies and other bride and groom perks =-.

      Reply
    4. Jennine

      hahha, i just love this every time i read it!
      sooo true!
      at my first fashion week, i remember some people scanning the room whilst talking to me… i was thinking ‘hey buddy *cough* guy hipwell from fashion 156 *cough* are you talking to me or some mystery person behind me?

      Reply
    5. Retro Chick

      I went up to one stand just after some people from Harpers. I think once he saw my badge I was barely worth a blink, I even complimented one of the designs and he still didn’t even stop looking over my shoulder!

      I just moved on to the next stand, who was a lovely lady who let me try on her hat! Noel Stewart hats, by the way ;o)
      .-= Retro Chick´s last blog ..What are you Wearing? Wedding Number Two…. =-.

      Reply
    6. Carla Harbour

      I love this article, all the tips are very very true 🙂
      I’ve been in the Valencia Fashion Week, and I know what it is to be standing in the queue for an hour, without a change of shoes, always bring flats in your bags haha
      xx
      .-= Carla Harbour´s last blog ..Suede Wedges =-.

      Reply
    7. Cathy Murphy

      A very good article, everyone on the Fashion Week need to wear flats, it’s no joke with all the walking thats gonna be done this month, keep your feet safe and if you can’t wakin flats take some flips with you to change into when you can rest.
      chica chick cute xx

      Reply
    8. Courtney

      Fashion Week seems a little daunting for the newbie reporter/journalist. I am pleased to note you mentioned “more affordable fashion” was included. I always think of these events as being only for the wealthy. Nice article.

      Reply
    9. Gone

      This is really helpful!
      I went to Lisbon Fashion Week (I’m portuguese) last season and I felt a bit like a fish out of water. Second time I’m hoping it’s better. I learnt that not many clothes’ layers are required as I nearly died with the heat there.
      Now I just need to find some courage to ask people to get their pictures taken *prays*
      Anyways, thanks!

      Reply
    10. Sofia Leo

      Great tips! I’m so glad I found this post just in time! Getting ready for Prague’s fashion week in a few weeks and will definitely find these useful!

      Thank you,
      Sofia Leo

      Reply