So, what is it about Fashion Week? In fact, why do we have fashion weeks? As a designer, why is participation in fashion week important? Beyond the lights, camera, action; there is more to it than simply the social event. From that small online encyclopedia called Wikipedia, there are about 138 worldwide fashion weeks. If you determine to attend each and every one, it would take over two and a half years from Belgrade to Brisbane, from Rio de Janeiro to Hong Kong. In a nutshell, it is always fashion week somewhere.
So if fashion for you is not ticked off as interest/hobby, so why is Fashion Week important? Meryl Streep puts it quite nicely in the movie “The Devil Wears Prada”:
In all seriousness, beyond the movie, fashion week is basically a fashion industry event lasting approximately one week where fashion designers display their latest collection on the runway to buyers and the media. Not only is it a PR opportunity, its one of the ways in which a designers collection will end up in the biggest retail stores in the world. These events may seem like a frivolous excuse to dress up and have your picture taken at these over the top exclusive events with photographers clicking away and endless images of street style photos as well as celebrities.
Fashion Week all in all may have all those elements but it centrally is a business-centered event. To explain it in layman terms, what you find in stores ready for you to buy all stemmed from business deals and media buzz created at the Fashion Week events; 6 months prior to them being in the shelf. It all adds up to a carefully met and followed fashion calendar. From the consumer end, we end up with multiple options for the designs that were showcased; either you buy the original pieces, cheaper adaptations or the knock –off in lower end retail stores. Either way, we are part and parcel whether we are aware of it or not.
As a designer, you are like a fashion trend forecaster of what is to come because you work one year in advance, give or take. For example, Paris Autumn/Winter Fashion Week is taking place from today (1st March) to the 9th of March. This means that the designers showcasing must have began sketching their collections from perhaps August 2015 or perhaps even earlier. These collections will be displayed in stores during the winter season (6 months after fashion week) with magazines dishing out the trends for that season.
Of course not all collections end up in stores. There are many different types of fashion from RTW (Ready-to-Wear) to Couture. There is so much more to Fashion Weeks though with collaborations between media houses, models, hair and make-up companies, sponsors, photographers, bloggers, street-style trend influence and a bring together of fashion industry professionals. This cannot be covered in one paragraph, neither in one month, but we’ll try.
This is just a brief overview and simplified explanation of what a small part of Fashion Week is all about. This month’s Fashion Week Series is focused on demystifying these events and to really understand the purpose, the origins, the need and the innovative developments both internationally and for us in Kenya.
Author: Wanjiku N. M | Editor and Founder of TDS | Twitter: @WanjikuNM