The first time I applied for press credentials to cover San Francisco Fashion Week in 2007, they responded that they did not grant bloggers that access. Did it stop me from going? No. One of the designers invited me to cover her collection, and I was able to see a fashion show for the first time ever and cover it on my fledgeling blog.
Over the years I've covered fashion weeks in various cities–San Francisco, Berlin, London, Amsterdam, and of course, New York. Sometimes I have press credentials and others not. In the three years I've been covering NYFW, I only had press credentials for one season. How is this possible you might ask?
What are Press Credentials?
Each fashion week is different, but generally press credentials allow a person to enter into the tents and use the media area, which can come in handy if you need to charge your laptop, download images from your camera, etc. However the Starbucks across the street often has better internet connection, more room and power outlets. Some fashion weeks put your name into a database for PRs to check, like a reference. However, ultimately, it's the designers and PR firms that make the decision to whether or not you get access to the shows, and what level of access you get as well. You always have to contact the PR firm to get access to the shows, whether you have press credentials or not.
Personally, I don't bother with press credentials anymore. I may apply going to a new city to get an idea of how the fashion week works. Some fashion weeks offer robust packages. One season Berlin Fashion Week gave me a riser pass… so I was able to forgo my seat and get photos from the pit (which are often much, much better). That was definitely worth it. New York Fashion Week? I'm not so sure.
No cred? No problem: Other ways you can get access
These days there are several ways to get coverage not just by contacting the PRs, there are companies looking to work with blogger during fashion week and can offer you access to shows. The downside is, that they pick which shows you have access to and it usually comes with strings attached (ie, mentioning their product in your post). However, if you're just getting your start, this can be a great way to build your portfolio, and build connections for the next season.
Learn the Fashion Week Ropes
No blogger comes to fashion week for the first time with a red carpet rolled out for them. It's usually a process of getting to know how things work and what you need to do to get on the radars of the right people. It's also a process of learning how to make the best coverage with the access you have. I know now, it's pointless for me to go to a big show at Lincoln Center if I'm in standing because it's impossible to get great photos, but at Milk Studios I personally prefer standing. Getting a standing ticket for other shows, like Proenza Schouler on the other hand enabled me to get great photos, that may not have happened in seated.
Either way, my advice is to explore and experiment and find what works for you and your readers. If you're just starting out, or if you have an established blog and you're new to fashion week it's going to take a few times to get used to how things work. I know the first time I went to shows at New York Fashion Week, going to two shows took every bit of energy out, and I came home an cried in the embryonic position. #truestory
These days, I look forward to the shows, looking forward to seeing all the people who come in from out of town and of course the IFB Conference. But I'm not sure if press credentials have anything to do with any of that.