Fashion Week Networking

Your Complete Guide to Getting Into Fashion Week Shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris

fashion week shows nyfw ralph lauren finale
IMAGE: RALPH LAUREN

Have you ever dreamed of attending Fashion Week shows at one of the 4 major cities?

Attending invitation-only Fashion Week shows feels like the holy grail for any fashion lover. As the glamorous epicenter of the industry, Fashion Weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris host coveted shows unveiling next season’s collections from elite designers. But scoring those elusive tickets when you’re not an editor, celebrity or industry insider can seem downright impossible.

With so much mystique and exclusivity surrounding Fashion Week shows, it’s easy to feel discouraged. But fashion belongs to those who love it – not just a select few. While it does take dedication, creativity and perseverance, there are proven strategies to manifest your Fashion Week dreams and get beyond the velvet ropes.

As someone who started as an outsider, but has been working backstage at New York Fashion Week for the past 17 years, I’m sharing all my insider tips to help fellow fashion enthusiasts gain access too. Follow these methods, and you’ll get one step closer to attending the Fashion Week shows of your dreams.

GO STRAIGHT TO THE GATEKEEPERS: PR AGENCIES

PR agencies manage every aspect of designer Fashion Week shows. Getting on their radar with a well-crafted email is the most direct path to tickets.

Here’s how to slide into a PR agency’s inbox:

Start by researching which PR agency manages the specific designer show you want to attend. Large firms like KCD, PR Consulting and Karla Otto handle shows for mega-brands like Gucci, Valentino and Saint Laurent. Boutique agencies work with smaller and emerging designers.

Every Fashion Week has an official calendar on their governing body’s website – like the CFDA calendar for NYFW or FHCM for Paris. Designer websites also list which PR firm they partner with. Make a list of your dream designer shows and their PR contacts. (This is where using an Excel sheet comes in handy!)

Once you’ve identified the agencies for your desired shows, craft a professional email to them. Ideally contact them 4-6 weeks prior to the show date.

Here what you do:

  • Put the name of the specific show in the subject line – like “Dior SS2024 Show Inquiry”
  • Briefly explain who you are – a student, aspiring designer, blogger, superfan, etc.
  • Note any fashion industry experience, including but not limited to social media reach, previous internships or roles with that company, etc.
  • Politely ask if they have any availability for tickets or even standing room spots
  • Thank them sincerely for any consideration
  • Follow up closer to the show date if you don’t hear back initially

You likely won’t score tickets to mega-brands like Chanel or Louis Vuitton right off the bat. But targeting emerging designers and smaller PR firms will increase your chances. With persistence and relationship building over seasons, you can work your way up the ladder.

Important Pro Tip:
Keep a record of the agencies you’ve reach out to, if you need to follow up and if they responded – who the contact person was.

Volunteer for Key Industry Players

One inside route to accessing Fashion Week shows is volunteering with key industry organizations and influencers involved in the shows. Photographers, stylists, hair and makeup artists all need extra support during their busiest time of year. Reach out about volunteering opportunities in exchange for insider access:

  • Follow contacts on social media and email/message them about volunteering 2-3 weeks before Fashion Week dates.
  • Note your passion for the industry, your interest in their work and ask if they need any assistance in exchange for learning opportunities and show access. Make it a win-win offer.
  • Volunteering gigs could include writing show recaps, capturing behind-the-scenes photos/video, assisting backstage, managing guest lists and catering to VIPs.
  • Build genuine relationships that pay off with invitations or insider tips down the road. These key players can become lifelong mentors.

Getting on the radar of prominent fashion editors and bloggers, influencers and creative teams through volunteering puts you in a prime position when ticket time comes around.

Bonus Text

You’ll get the bonus guide, “Fashion Week Backstage Roles You Need to Know” AND the mini-training on how to get personalized invites to exclusive Fashion Week events each season!

THE

FASHION WEEK

MASTERCLASS

IN THIS CLASS YOU’LL:

» Discover the essential roles behind runway shows 

» Learn how to find backstage volunteer opportunities

» Understand the traits brands are seeking when hiring show volunteers

» Learn effective networking strategies to connect with industry professionals

Pursue Staff Positions to See the Inner Workings

While it may not seem glamorous, working staff positions during Fashion Week provides valuable insight into the hectic behind-the-scenes operation.

There are tons of moving parts that require passionate workers to keep the experience smooth and luxe for guests. Some roles that commonly need filling include:

  • Show Production – Help manage all production elements like lighting, music, choreography, model and designer relations. Unpaid internships or paid coordinator roles may be available.
  • Venue Staff – Paid positions like venue director, floor manager, coat check, security that grant total venue access.
  • Check-In & Ticketing – Greet guests and distribute show tickets at designer booth or venue entrance.
  • Model Dressers – Assist models backstage with quick changes between runway walks. These are often volunteer roles, but they provide backstage access.
  • Ushers – Escort guests to assigned seats. Paid hourly positions with full show viewing access.

Browse major listing sites like FashionJobs.com for Fashion Week gigs. Production companies like KCD, or even the show venues themselves frequently need staffing. You can also directly email designers or models to offer your event services in exchange for experience and any access they can provide.

While the work isn’t glamorous, getting your foot in the door builds relationships and inside knowledge. Being backstage for an actual show is an unforgettable experience.

Fashion Week shows check-in
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE

Last Minute Hail Mary Outside the Venue

When all else fails, there’s always the good old-fashioned tactic of showing up outside a show’s venue right before it starts. Venues are usually strictly guarded, but if you channel confidence, keep your eyes peeled and get a little lucky, it can pay off!

What you have to do:

  • Arrive at the venue about 10 minutes prior to showtime when seating is wrapping up.
  • Dress the Fashion Week part – channel your best street style to exude like you belong.
  • Head straight to the check-in tables and politely ask if there are any seats available due to cancellations, no-shows or standing room spots.
  • If that fails, scope out the scene. Rushing production assistants may grab extras from the line at the last minute if empty seats are glaringly apparent.
  • There are no guarantees with this method, but with some smooth talking and bright outfit, you just may get ushered in!

And even if you can’t find a way inside, remember that photographers swarm outside Fashion Week shows capturing street style. Put thought into your standout look, pose for pics and you may just end up featured on a top fashion blog! Fashion Week is just as much about the atmosphere and creativity happening outside venues. Don’t be deterred – this exciting scene belongs to you too.

Fashion Week shows street style photographers
ACIELLE TANBETOVA | NEW YORK TIMES

In the end…

The thrill of seeing spectacular collections come down the runway in real time is like none other. With the right strategy and determination, you can manifest those dreams for Fashion Week shows in New York, Paris, London or Milan.

Start making connections now through emails, volunteering and strategic planning for upcoming seasons. Soak up the electrifying atmosphere outside shows and get your foot in the door however possible.

Fashion at its core is about artistry and community. If you love it, you belong at Fashion Week! Keep showing up with positivity, persistence and patience. Your hard work will pay off, and soon you’ll be front row watching the latest collections unfold alongside the industry elite.

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