Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal published an article citing changes in next season's “invites” and press credential process at New York Fashion Week. IMG, the company which produces the “tents” is making several changes to the venue to offer more opportunities for designers to show, while decreasing the capacity (and therefore invitations) for the actual shows. It's said that the changes are implied to keep bloggers out by limiting the number of seats for “true fashion insiders.”
Perhaps this was inevitable, since NYFW has been called a zoo, a circus, even a clusterfuck in recent years all because of the explosion of bloggers as well as the general public. On one hand the fashion industry has experienced the interest of the masses because of it (and through reality TV shows like Project Runway, America's Next Top Model and All on The Line) but on the other hand, asking designers to foot the bill to accommodate the onlookers who may not be their customers may be asking too much.
Personally I don't see this as a big deal, I had interviewed Fern Mallis a few years ago and she explained, IMG is like the landlord, they have no say in who their tenants [the designers] invite to their shows. The designers rent the space, and the designers send the invites to the shows. Press Credentials from IMG grant you access to the lobby and the press area, NOT the actual shows.
In 10 seasons and 5 cities, of attending fashion week, I've gotten “Press Credentials” maybe three times …and you know what? I still received invites to shows.
You don't need “Press Credentials” to get invited to fashion shows. In 10 seasons and 5 cities, of attending fashion week, I've gotten “Press Credentials” maybe three times. At NYFW, only once did I ever get press credentials through IMG, yes, they have declined press credentials to me, and you know what? I still received invites to shows. The truth is, IMG never really had it down where they could REALLY tell who was influential and who was not. Their system for granting credentials was completely random. So, really… don't worry about IMG.
But the thing you really actually need to pay attention to, is, was and always be the relationship to the brands.
So… What do bloggers do now?
- Build your relationships with the brands throughout the year: Don't just email every season demanding press access to fashion shows. Develop relationships with PRs. Often times the digital outreach team is separate from the fashion show production team, but if you have a relationship with your PR, you can get information as to who to contact and maybe even an introduction.
- Know your value: Have a good understanding of your traffic, conversion and social influence. The real key to making sure you stay relevant to brands is to having an answer to why they want a relationship with you. Do you have access to their customers? Do your customers buy? Is your content read by influential people? If not, you may want to work on bringing your blog to that level.
- Bring your own gear: The only real “perk” of getting a press pass was gaining access to the media lounge and wifi. Truth be told, I always had the worse luck with MBFW wifi, so bringing your own USB wifi connection will ensure you have constant internet access no matter where you are.
- Get the lay of the land: Truth be told, there are SO MANY blogger lounges all around New York during fashion week, all desperate to have bloggers take advantage, (I know because they send reminders during fashion week). Brands WANT to build relationships with bloggers so find out what kind of events are happening outside the tents. They will have great opportunities for you start your relationships going for next season.
- Assess IF fashion week is really for you: This year I wrote a post pondering if our readers actually care about fashion week. My experience has been that traffic went down the seasons I covered fashion week, last season was the first time in years I did not attend and did not cover and was the first time my blog did not experience a dip in traffic. If your readers don't care about your fashion week coverage you may want to rethink covering fashion week. It's not fair to your readers, it's not fair to the brands (who are hoping your readers care) and it's not fair to you as attending fashion week is stressful and expensive if you're coming in from out of town. Sure, it's a wonderful experience, but if it doesn't serve a clear purpose for your blog it may not be the right fit.
- Prove “them” wrong: If you are upset that the fashion industry is hating on bloggers, there is really only one thing you can do… Prove them wrong by striving for success and achieving it. Don't let sensational articles get in the way of you doing what you want to do. The truth is, there are no rules set in stone, if your blog is particularly valuable to brands, they will do what they can to include you. There will always be naysayers, and the only thing you can do is to rise above it.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see how IMG's new policy changes fashion week. Maybe it will make matters worse, maybe it will change how the general public thinks about fashion, or maybe everyone will be happier with more exclusivity. Only time will tell!
[Image credit: The Cut]