To the average consumer, catwalks and couture can seem otherworldly and confusing, especially if their only glimpse into high fashion is a jargon-stuffed editorial spread.
With the rise of social media and influencers, however, fashion has become democratized.
Runway shows are livestreamed, bloggers share backstage secrets, and Instagrammers post selfies in the latest must-have top — with a link to buy one in their bio.
It’s no wonder this type of access not only has piqued curiosity from a large consumer audience, but also has increased the demand for creative fashion content.
Here are some tips to help you navigate any fashion week and make your work stand out.
1. Check the schedule.
The four major fashion weeks are in New York, London, Milan, and Paris. These occur twice a year, with fall collections being showcased in February and spring collections in September. The shows follow a stable cadence so it’s easy to plan around.
To help keep track of important fashion dates, bookmark the fashion calendar put together by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
You also can follow @AP_Planner on Twitter to help with contextualized editorial planning. Pay extra attention to digital calendars that will feature livestreams.
2. RSVP — unless you’re not invited.
At most trade shows and industry events, a media presence is so coveted that once you’ve been vetted, you get a free pass and unlimited access to nearly everything.
You can buy tickets to ancillary events and participate in public parties, but if you want a spot at an actual runway show, you’ll need to be invited by a designer’s PR team.
Not BFFs with a fashion designer? That’s OK.
Review the fashion week’s accreditation policy for journalists, bloggers, and influencers for information on how to apply. For example, here’s the New York Fashion Week press credentials policy and London Fashion Week’s bloggers and digital influencers accreditation criteria.
If you aren’t selected to attend a show, don’t be discouraged. You can participate in other parts of fashion week — or cover it from home.
3. Sign up for news alerts.
Whether you’ve got a front-row seat or you’re covering a show from your desk, it’s important to keep up with news around the show. Cover your bases with these steps:
- Register to be on official mailing lists that can provide you with newsletters, blog updates, and major changes to plans.
- Familiarize yourself with online press rooms and news alert features they might have.
- Sign up for PR Newswire for Journalists to get general fashion industry news releases sent to your inbox.
- Follow brands, designers, and show organizers on social media.
4. Edit mindfully and know your angles.
The best designers know how to edit individual pieces and collections to present a cohesive story. Similarly, fashion writers know how to focus their editorial lens to create a compelling narrative.
Stories typically highlight street style, runway shows and designers, behind-the-scenes happenings, models and celebrities, beauty and makeup, and events and parties around the city.
Even though the seasonality of fashion is timely, a lot of content can be more evergreen in scope and is easy to repurpose even months afterward.
From listicles to in-depth interviews, most coverage falls into these categories:
- Live updates through blogging and social media
- Advice (e.g., how or when to wear a certain look; where to purchase and what to pair with it)
- Long-form contextual analysis that explains musical significance, social commentary, historical setting, or pop culture references
- Content roundups or themed pieces (compare and contrast, overall trends, etc.)
- Visual storytelling
5. Prepare to pitch yourself for next time.
After months of planning and hard work, a runway show is over in minutes.
Accreditation similarly is ephemeral – just because you make it in one year or miss out on an invite, it doesn’t mean the same thing will happen next time.
Try these tips to put your best look forward:
- Keep an up-to-date portfolio of work that demonstrates what you bring to fashion dialogue today.
- Whether or not you went to fashion week, feature related content that illustrates the type of coverage you do; your work will end up doing most of the pitching for you.
- If you aren’t writing for a major high-fashion publication or don’t have the blog numbers that you want, try freelancing for these types of outlets. Being a guest contributor will enhance your experience, and hopefully draw in a larger audience.
- In advance of the next show, start sending direct pitches to designers’ PR teams.
- Articulate why you want to attend and the kind of coverage they can expect.
- Be open to working with small or newer brands, which provide unique opportunities.
Lastly, talk with fellow writers and connections you may have in the industry — you never know who may have an extra ticket for the next breakout designer’s show.
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Erienne Muldoon is a senior customer content specialist for Virtual Press Office, PR Newswire’s trade show marketing solutions division. When she’s not advising clients on storytelling best practices, you can find her tweeting about Cleveland, PR, and video games @ECMuldoon.