NYFW Report: 6 Tips for Navigating the New New York Fashion Week Like a Pro

fashion week street scene
In a season chock full of transitions and newness, two things will remain a constant during New York Fashion Week: there will be high drama (from show-goers and organizers, and via the fashions seen on the runway), and shows will never, ever start on time. With two new venues in use and many more shows scattered throughout the city, most guests had a look of slight disorientation on their faces on day 1, and rightfully so. A lot has changed, and it's hard to get acclimated when shows last an average of just 12 minutes and there’s a whirlwind of commotion going on all around.

On day 1, within a span of five hours, I managed to (miraculously) make it to the three major venues (Moynihan Station, Clarkson Square, Milk Studios) for shows and backstage coverage, and surfaced relatively unscathed, with my opinion on the matter, along with some facts, to share with the IFB community.

No Time to Meander: Get in, Get Out, Move out of the Way

This seemed to be the mantra at all three of the main venues this season. There is no common area or lobby to congregate in, meet friends, or rest between shows. There might as well be “No loitering” signs posted about, as there is no space to do anything but queue in the line for the show, enter it, and then promptly thereafter be ushered out of the door. There is a bit of a riser inside of the Moynihan station, relatively steep and prominent, and not a very conducive workspace.

The wifi was available with a password, which usually is given out freely (I was unable to get onto wifi at Milk Studios or Clarkson Square however. Clarkson Square is also so air tight that it will be near impossible to get a cell signal; might as well put your phone away, save its battery, and be social!). The true  space to be social is in the show itself, and the entryway at Moynihan Station is so short that people had to wait in a line outside to get in before some of the afternoon shows. Did I mention that it rained all day? And will continue to do so for the next several days? The fashion week weather challenges never relent! Speaking of, even if you want to use the restroom, you have to snake your way past several security guards to get there (in all three locations). Which leads me to…

The bathrooms are actually nice (well, normal) this season

No more squeezing into a trailer with a meager four port-a-Johns, or using a freestanding one backstage. This season boasts an actual bathroom, with a full, real door and walls! At Moynihan Station, there were even TRESemmé hair products (a sponsor) in the restroom to use to freshen up, while at Clarkson Square, there was a bathroom attendant AND a basket full of mints (Milk Studios has always had restrooms, although not enough if you ask me!). Score!  The irony though, is that although there are decent bathrooms this year, it was hard for me to find the tubs of free bottled water, that are usually in excess at the events.

An organized check-in system is only as good as technology allows

So…Fashion GPS is pretty commonly used, and it's great for pulling up the confirmation codes and barcodes. However, when I entered the show at Moynihan Station, there was a huge line, and only three people scanning in the barcodes from a smartphone, instead of a self-serve scanning kiosk which was available during previous seasons. It was a huge problem. The people doing the check-ins were moving very slowly, it wasn’t working half the time, and so they just let in clumps of people at a time without even “checking them in.”

This is upsetting for two reasons. 1:  I spent a lot of time to organize my emails and confirmations so that I would be prepared and ready to check in swiftly. 2: if you aren’t scanned in, the designer/brand/publicists have no record of you being there. If you are invited and don’t show up, it can be grounds for not being invited for the next season. So please, get this straightened out, and scan me in!

The outdoor catwalk is still happening; it’s just extremely cramped!

Imagine one of the busiest areas of New York City (Penn Station), and then throw into the mix construction, partially obstructed streets and sidewalks, about 5,000 more people for fashion week, tourists stopping to gawk, street vendors, women teetering on 5+ inch high heels, photo-hungry fashionistas stopping and nonchalantly posing, and photographers rushing and darting all around to get that street style pic. Sounds like madness, right? Oh, it is! The major spot for this, I observed, is at the corner of 33rd Street at 8th Avenue, making it difficult to walk in a straight line and get to the Moynihan Station shows in a timely fashion. The photographers hug tighter to the inside of the sidewalks at Clarkson Square and Milk Studios, fenced inward by barricades, traffic, and security guards keeping them off of the middle of the sidewalk.

If you want to do street style photos, may I suggest…

Although there really isn’t a spot as scenic as Bryant Park was or Lincoln Center, if you want to have some photos taken and not have 1,000 distractions happening in the background, this New York blogger has a few suggestions for you. If you are at Moynihan Station, hop on the steps in front of the building on 8th Avenue, or walk down 32nd or 31st Street to 9th Avenue.  If you are at Clarkson Square, go one block further west to 9A/the West Side Highway, cross to the water side, and take photos on a pier, path, or in the park. If you are at Milk Studios, head to Little West 12th Street, a few blocks south for picturesque New York cobblestones, or pop right up to the Highline (I like this idea best!).

Take the train, and wear flats!

Fashion is about frivolity and fantasy, but when you are working in the industry, being pragmatic will take you far. And I mean that literally. Please wear comfortable shoes! Thank goodness athleisure is popular right now, which means you can get away with slick, comfy clothes and cool sneaker options. Plus, it’s still warm enough to wear sandals, and you can’t tell me that there aren’t tons of cute flat sandal styles out there. Also, you will quickly spend a fortune taking cars between the venues, so try to allot yourself enough time to travel between locations using the subway. It could be the same time, if not faster at times, than in a cab.

Download the Hopstop app (while you can!), which gives perfect directions, as well as alternative routes, accounts for interrupted train service, and provides fare estimates for various modes of transportation. If I took a cab between the three venues today, I would have spent $55  + tax + tips. Instead, I just used my already-paid-for monthly metrocard, that if I would have paid for as I went along, would still have only cost me 1/5 of the cab fare.  I’d rather pocket the difference and put it toward some of those fabulous looks that I see during the week at the shows and presentations!

Do you have any other fashion week spring 2016-related questions for me? If so, post in the comments below!

[Photo by Stefano Tinti via Shutterstock]

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8 Responses

  1. Zuma

    Wow Julia! This was such a great article! I felt as if I was there navigating between the shows. And you are so right, as much as this industry is about creativity and fantasy, being pragmatic and realistic is one of the major keys for success. xx

  2. Style Tomes

    1. Couldn’t agree more about the check-in process. It’s incredibly frustrating and inefficient to cramp a mob of people through 2-3 single lines of scanners.

    2. I might be an outsider here, with Lincoln Center receiving so much flack over the seasons, but the new location sucks in comparison to the old one. I get the qualms over LC location, but there was breathing room! It felt good being able to walk over to the ‘tents’ at an average pace and not get constantly stuck in traffic. Time is crucial if you’re running from show to show and have a tight schedule! Unless you’re VIP (and most of us are not) and can get ushered in and out quickly, the foot traffic is more akin to being stuck in the Lincoln Tunnel during rush hour. Maybe I’m biased because I used to work a block away from Moynihan Station for years, and the loathing for it carried over. Maybe it just sucks.

    3. I enjoy watching the street fashion photography scene! I loved being able to people watch during my downtime. There’s no way you can people watch at the new location. Unless the people you want to watch happen to be train commuters emerging from the PATH station. You probably don’t.

    4. I’m enjoying off-site shows a lot more this season as a result of all of the above. Fashion Week has felt very scattered for a while now, but this year is an even bigger stake in this de-centralization.

    Style Tomes
    Style Tomes on Instagram

  3. Lexie

    Great article! Luckee! : ) Just wanted to mention for us peeps who can’t make the shows, there are replays at NewYorkFashionWeekLIVE.com. NYFW.com only has replays of their shows! NewYorkFashionWeekLIVE.com has shows like Givenchy and Victoria Beckham that aren’t part of NYFW: The Shows. Anyway, w00t! Hope to go one day! 🙂

  4. Marketing

    Hi Julia!

    I’m so sorry to hear about this experience with our services. We created GPS Radar & Events to streamline and digitize fashion week, and to expedite lines! Despite our best intentions, it is ultimately on the PR team to manage the flow and check in process. There were 4 self-serving kiosks at Moynihan this year and you can always use GPS Radar on your phone to avoid printing and go straight to your seat. Can you please let me know which show you attended? I can relay it back to the team for that designer.

    Thank you for your feedback
    – Team Fashion GPS

  5. Belinda

    This is great article Julia! This was my second season doing NYFW, and I think there is so much pressure to dress and act the part, that a lot of people don’t address the realities and logistics of getting around the city. It’s not all glamour and picture perfect for that street style shot; it’s a lot of hustle and organization too!