The Truth About New York Fashion Week
In the grand scheme of your business, does it actually matter?
Every year as August rolls around I start seeing the posts in the Facebook groups - "Okay ladies, who's going to NYFW this year?" - "Has anyone started pitching for NYFW?" - "NYFW is around the corner. I really want to go. How do I get in?"
And every year, I roll my eyes.
But I get it. I really do. When I first started blogging, fashion week felt like a necessity; if you weren't there, you weren't doing something right. You weren't 'important enough', 'successful enough'.
I originally did what I thought I was supposed to do. I pitched shows, packed my schedule, spent way more money than I ever needed to on way more outfits than I ever needed (which, by the way, I would never actually wear IRL), and all the while I hated it.
When I think about the moments I enjoyed, it wasn't going to a show or a party, getting my picture taken or pretending I was cooler than I actually was. It was my time spent with friends; and really, I could spend time with friends anywhere. So what was I doing?
If I took that away, I was left with all of these things that really gave me no purpose other than to say I was there. And really, who cares if I was there or not?
The truth about New York Fashion week is that it wasn't impacting my business. It wasn't translating to my level of success. In fact, after fashion week was over, it really didn't matter at all.
Important or imposter?
Social media has this nasty way of making you feel so inflated one minute, and so small and insignificant the next. I think it's played a big role in perpetuating this false sense of importance when it comes to whether or not you're on the roster for NYFW.
So where does that leave us as 'influencers'?truth about new york fashion week
It leaves everyone feeling like they need to go. Even if we don't want to go, don't have any reason to go, or don't really even know why we're going, we still feel like we need to. See and be seen. Show your followers you were there; that you were 'so busy'; that you're important.
I recently listened to an episode of A Drink with James, hosted by Fohr CEO James Nord, and I want to share some of his input that really resonated with me.
He said, "[Fashion week is] only as important as you make it. You can be wildly successful and have a great career and never go to Fashion Week, or you can do New York, Milan and Paris every year and crush it. [At the same time, it's] a time when our industry is most like high school. There's no time in the year where people feel more like they’re part of the cool kids table or they're not."
So before we get to Qs I want to close with this: the truth about New York Fashion Week is that NYFW is what you make it. It's not going to make or break your career, and you're not going to be cooler IRL if you went. If a great opportunity comes up for you to go and you're excited about it - go. But let go of that sense of entitlement that just because you call yourself a blogger (whether you started yesterday or 8 years ago), you should be backstage or sitting front row for everyone to see; because in the grand scheme of your business, it doesn't actually matter.
Now that I've crushed all of your NYFW dreams (kidding), I want to answer some Qs, including why I personally choose to go!
Why I go to NYFW
Once the first-time thrill of fashion week subsided and reality set in, perspective hit me square in the face. If I'm not enjoying the hustle, why am I going in the first place? In the past years I've made a conscious decision to go for one reason and one reason only; to be there for the brands with whom I've cultivated a great relationship with over the years. I go to say hi to my brand contacts and to tell them, 'hey, I'm here to support you because I value our relationship." All of the extra stuff, I could care less about. I think once you hit 30 you realize that there's really no reason at all to do things that don't make you feel good - and so I don't. I can say, if I didn't live in NY, I wouldn't be buying plane ticket or booking a hotel so I could attend (and that's just my personal preference).
Q: What is the most beneficial thing about going to fashion week?
Being there for your brands. Honestly, I don't see any career benefit beyond that. As far as personal benefits go, the thrill of being backstage or seeing a show for the first time can be fun, but trust me when I say that it fizzles out!
Q: Are you invited to attend a lot of shows?
In the grand scheme of things, I'm not sure what's really considered 'a lot'. I get invites to small or newer designers and a few that I stop and say, 'hmm, that could be a really fun experience'. The truth about New York Fashion week is that in reality, shows are typically very brief, and the stress of running from one to the next (for what?) isn't always worth my sanity!
Q: What are the pros and cons? Is it only worth attending if your trip is paid for?
PROS / If you're going for the first time, it's a fun experience to be a part of a show or to be backstage; Attending an event with all the glitz and glam with friends is a unique experience; Seeing your brand contacts face-to-face is a great way to build your relationships.
CONS / It can be exhausting; It often feels like high-school or a 'who's who' (I'm very confident in who I am and NYFW still makes me feel some type of way); If you're not attending on someone else's dime, it can be very expensive (flights, hotel, food, UBER don't come cheap in NY and this can be a shock if you're from out of town); Traffic. So much damn traffic.
In terms of attending on your own dime and whether or not it's worth it - I would say if you have the funds, want to go for the experience, and feel confident that you won't look back later and question whether or not it was worth it, go for it.
Q: How do I get invited to events?
The truth about New York Fashion week is that invites are often about who you know. When you don't know someone, it's about how valuable a brand sees you as an influencer. If event invites aren't showing up in your inbox, you have a few options: a) pitch (make sure to include how you can be of value in covering the event instead of just asking for an invite), b) apply for GPS Radar, where you'll be able to secure invites to shows and events, c) ask around in the blogging community for +1's or to fill someone else's seat if they are unable to attend.
Q: I have one day where I'm totally free. Do you suggest trying to get into other shows or should I take a content batching day with a photographer?
Take a day to shoot in the city, 100%! Especially coming in from out of town, take the time to explore the city and get some great content (which will serve a better purpose for you in the long run than sitting (or standing) in a crowded 10-minute show.
See my guides: The 6 Most Instagrammable Places to Take Pictures in SoHo / 6 More SoHo Photoshoot Locations
Q: What does a typical day for you look like during NYFW?
I usually wake up earlier than I want to, spend too much time getting glammed and ready, then travel down to SoHo to shoot a few looks with my photographer. Then i'll head back uptown or have lunch, head back downtown to stop at showrooms to see my brands, head to a show/event at night, eat pizza because I'm still starving and crash as early as possible!
Q: How do you get to go to Fashion Week? I'd love to go just once!
Anyone can go to Fashion Week! I will say, going for the first time, it's an exciting time to be in the city and see the hustle and bustle of it all and how it comes to fruition. If you're looking to go just to experience it, there are often free exhibits, events or pop-ups you can visit. Even just to spend a day in NY, take some photos, stop by an event and have lunch at a cool spot can be fun!
Q: I keep getting turned down for shows. What should I do?
Don't worry about it. Why do you want to go to a show? To SAY you went? For the experience? Think about the benefit you're getting out of going. As I mentioned above, there are so many other ways you can still enjoy Fashion Week!
Q: Where do you shop for your Fashion week outfits?
REVOLVE, Shopbop and Zara mostly! I see Fashion Week as a time to be able to dial it up a few notches so I typically will go for higher-end, funkier pieces that might be a little bolder yet still a reflection of my personal style.
Whether you're attending NYFW for the very first time or heading into another season, think about asking yourself WHY you're going. Hope this answered some of your Qs! Would love to hear YOUR thoughts in the comments.