NYFW is upon us yet again – whether you’re a blogger ‘newbie’, or have been at it for 5+ years, attending New York Fashion Week {aka NYFW} for the first time is allrazy exciting! Ok, and also maybe overwhelming + nerve wracking at the same time. If it’s something you’ve considered attending, it’s important to have a game plan in place. I’ve been in attendance at least one season of NYFW each yeah since 2010 {even before I started my blog, working backstage in the public relations field} and get asked about the experience quite a bit, so wanted to share a beginners ‘NYFW 101’ if you will!

Let’s start with the basics. New York Fashion Week is an industry event that’s put together by IMG + sponsors each year, which allows designers the opportunity to showcase their new collections for the first time. The event happens twice each year: February {where fall/winter collections are presented} + September {spring/summer collections}. September is historically on a larger scale with more designers participating and more attendees/people in town, but both are highly esteemed.

NYFW is for industry insiders. People who are ‘movers + shakers’ in the fashion space, this includes: Buyers for department stores/boutiques, Media Personnel {magazine editors/writers}, Photographers {shooting for publications or the designers}, Digital Media {bloggers, IG influencers, vloggers, online magazines}, and Celebrity Stylists, among others. All of these potential attendees play a role in the fashion world, whether it’s providing press coverage in Vogue or social media exposure via Instagram.
New York Fashion Week Runway

All of the shows and presentations are invitation-only, so you need to have a plan in place on how to get invited. Since you’ve never attended in previous years, there’s a high probability you don’t have invites flying through your inbox {have no fear}. Getting invited to certain shows is as simple as being on the right media list. Here’s a little breakdown I’d recommend starting with…

  1. Start by looking at the official NYFW show schedule {found online, and typically posted 3 weeks prior to NYFW kick-off}.
  2. Pick out shows/designers that interest you.
  3. See if there’s a press release included.
  4. Make a spread sheet with all appropriate contact information regarding the PR agency of in-house contact for that brand.
  5. If you’re unable to find a press release with this contact info, research away. We’re so fortunate to have Google at our fingertips – tough not to be able to find someone’s email. If you’re like me, you can even troll through LinkedIn if press releases and brand’s website isn’t working out.
  6. Pitch your heart out. Contact every brand/PR rep you found and let them know you’re interest in attending the show! Keep your email short, sweet + to the point {keep in mind these contacts are extremely busy…especially during this time}. Intro who you are, give a couple quick stats about your blog/social {building credit why you should be there} + include examples of previous similar coverage you’ve provided to other brands and/or THEIR brand! If you’ve worn the designer recently or mentioned them in a previous article, link out to that. I wouldn’t suggest attaching a Media Kit for these types of pitch emails, just for the sake of time from the PR rep’s perspective.

    Volunteering to work backstage during The Shows is another way of ‘getting in’. Not to mention it’s an amazing + eyeopening opportunity to see how a fashion show really works start to finish. From model + makeup artist check-in, walk-thrus, soundcheck, front stage check-in, to the moment the lights turn on and the music starts – it’s pretty amazing to see how it all goes down. This is a great angle especially if you’re just starting out in the blog space and may not have a large following just yet, or even if you’re still in college and may be interested in fashion PR as a career. As mentioned above, my first time attending NYFW was actually as a volunteer myself! Prior to starting Living In Color Print, I was interning in New York at two Public Relations firms and had the opportunity to volunteer to work the shows – talk about a dream come true, I was literally over the moon when they asked me.

    How to find these volunteer positions you ask? I’d say pretty much every fashion designer and fashion related PR agency is looking for additional assistance the week/two weeks prior + during Fashion Week. Think of it as ‘seasonal help’ – 3 weeks max, but oh so much fun! Reach out to agencies that represent some of your favorite designers, in-house for the designers directly {your experience may be slightly limited this way, as you’ll mainly be working with one designer as opposed to an agency that represents several}, or even IMG or other show sponsors. Be professional, proactive + persistent. It will pay off.New York Fashion Week Runway

    Knowing the Fashion Week ‘lingo’ is super helpful when planning your schedule, and just simply setting expectations for your day. Contrary to popular belief, attending a fashion show isn’t as simple as walking into a room and taking your seat. There’s a lot {and I mean, a lot} of waiting, idle standing, lines, being shuffled around like cattle, did I mention waiting…haha, aren’t you excited?! At the end of the day you’ll end up being on your feet a lot longer then we might expect {don’t shy away from flats!}, but it’s all in the name of killer fashion.

    If you’re successful with your invite requests, you may start to see a theme of language along the lines of ‘you’re invited to the presentation, show, backstage, etc’. These are all different ways of viewing a collection. Here’s the basic breakdown:

    1. Backstage | An invitation to backstage allows you to get an up close and personal look at the clothes, models, hair + makeup looks prior to anything hitting the runway. This does NOT guarantee you admittance to the show itself, but it’s a great opportunity to get amazing close-up photos of everything along with interviews with celebrity stylists and maybe even the design themselves – make sure any interviews are scheduled through the PR Rep. prior to your arrival on-site. Backstage usually begins 4-5 hours prior to the start of the show itself. Press {that’s you} is typically allowed backstage up to 30 mins before showtime, although a lot of agencies will ask you to schedule a time to visit backstage as they’ll have limited credentials.
    2. Presentation | A presentation is typically held for an hour or two {but could go longer}, and is more of a come-and-go viewing experience. There’s not an official runway, but models will stand around in some fashion {some designers can get pretty creative with different sequences}, which allows photographers and onlookers to really take in each and every piece up close and personal. There are also often cocktails and/or lite bites served alongside the fashion – more of a social environment.
    3. Show or Runway Show | Considered the ‘traditional’ Fashion Week experience. A lineup of models walking in a straight line down a runway with people seated on either side. Shows will typically {and by typically, I mean alwayssss} start 30+ mins. AFTER the scheduled start time. Once everyone is seated and shuffled in to the ‘standing’ areas, the show will begin + last anywhere from 7-20 minutes. If you’re not seated in first or second row {or in a great standing position} I wouldn’t recommend whipping out your camera – runway is super tough to photograph to begin with {between motion + lighting}, and having to bob between heads on top of that…do a couple phone snaps and call it a day.

      Where to Stay During NYFW

      While the shows used to take place in a more compact area of the city {previously held at main hub Bryant Park and then Lincoln Center}, everything is now pretty spaced out. There are currently two ‘main hubs’ for official NYFW shows: Skylight Clarkson Sq. + Skylight at Moynihan Station, however Pier 59, Milk Studios, Industria + several other venues around the city are also often used. I’d suggest finding a hotel {or friend’s crash pad} that’s centrally located and easy to get around from. I love Midtown because it’s in the heart of the city and pretty easy to get anywhere semi-quickly {whether by subway, uber or taxi}.NYFW Blogger Brunch

      LOTS. NYFW is not simply shows + presentations anymore, anyone who’s looking to be involved in the fashion space will most likely be putting on some type of event this week. Cocktail parties, after parties, beauty lounges, blogger lounges, lunches, dinners, coffee dates, showroom visits – these are examples of things you can line up to fill down time between shows. And if all else fails, enjoy the city! NYC is pure magic, just people watching can be a huge source of inspiration + entertainment.

      I hope this helped shed even a shred of light on how to tackle NYFW! Granted, I’m no expert on Fashion Week, and each season I swear I myself learn something new every time. If you have any questions not addressed, comments, etc. please drop them below!

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loved your tips! but a quick question.. what are yhe age requirements to volunteering at nyfw. i will be a senior in high school but i’m itching to get in the industry!! thanks in advance for your help<3

    Glad you enjoyed this post, Claire! That’s a good question. My guess is 18 years or older, but each agency or the official NYFW ‘The Shows’ organization might have different parameters.

Hey love! How do you find out about the other events (Cocktail parties, after parties, beauty lounges, blogger lounges, lunches, dinners, coffee dates, showroom visits) and how do you go about getting an invite?

Great post gal! Really appreciate you sharing this with all of us.

xo Laura Leigh

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