This is my second year being invited to New York Fashion Week. Let me start this whole blog post off by saying it has been a dream of mine, since I was maybe 7 or 8 years old, to go to fashion week. The glamour, the people, the FASHION. If you’re someone who has followed my blog and social media pages, I hope you know how much I’m here for the FASHION.
Last year we decided to go to New York, last minute, making custom looks, seeing Chromat and Christian Cowan’s runway shows. It was a whirlwind, a dream come true, and a personal milestone. I noticed things about inclusion, diversity and lack of interest in fat bodies but I thought maybe I was reading too much into it or didn’t know how NYFW worked, PR wise. Now I know, NYFW is ALL about PR.
Fast forward, to about the end of July. Logan, my friend, photographer and *almost* personal assistant and I knew we were going back to fashion week. We knew we wanted to see multiple broadway shows, see multiple runway shows and see our NYC friends. Michele, my long time makeup artist, creative collaborator and friend, is someone I’ve always wanted to travel with and we have ALWAYS talked about the looks we will turn at fashion week. I made it my personal mission to get this trip sponsored for the three of us. We’re a creative trio, and they have been with me for years now. What I’ve found, is NYFW is last minute. Show invites, party invites, the runway schedule doesn’t get released until maybe two weeks before the event. The overall dates are released earlier, so you can plan when to be in the city, but it feels a little like a gamble when you don’t have all the information.
We started pitching ourselves for a hotel collaboration about a month out. We always had a back up hotel secured for the dates just in case, that we could cancel up to a certain date. I’m going to be super honest, we pitched about 50 hotels and stay apps. We got maybe, 20 responses, half offered a “media rate” and the other half were no’s. A media rate is a great way to go with multiple bloggers, influencers or press connects. A media rate is a lower rate, with the expectation that you’ll share about your experience via your blog, social media, etc. We ended up staying at The Courtyard Marriot in Chelsea, via Booking.com and Tripadvisors suggestion. Our hotel the previous year, was the worst Logan and I had stayed at so we did SO much research. We REALLY enjoyed the Courtyard Marriot because of it’s location and staff. It was a little tight for 3 people, for 10 days, but it worked for us. This isn’t sponsored, I wanted to share! So many other plus influencers and friends were close by because Curvy Con was around the corner.
Curvy Con, a plus size convention to meet brands, influencers and online friends. I had gone, I believe 3 or 4 years ago and I enjoyed meeting people but I haven’t been back. For me, I always wanted to go to fashion week and see FASHION. I’m very torn between the idea of continuing to show up at fashion week as the fat representation we need in the fashion industry or do we need to create our own spaces. Curvy Con is incredible for the community to come together. I have not attended in many years so I can’t speak on it, despite all of your questions! I really love the plus size community and the amazing people I’ve met through out my time as a blogger. I really, truly believe we could change the world, by empowering each other. However, I feel the commodifying of the body positive movement and the growth of the plus industry, has distorted the original intentions of the plus community and the fat positive movement.
Two weeks before we left, and two weeks before NYFW, the schedule gets released. I go off of the official NYFW website, because changes are made and a lot fo designers are showing “off site”, which means it won’t be at Spring Studios, where the majority of shows are at. So many events, shows, and self produced smaller shows are happening during the week and half that is fashion week. That means that you will be running around, so much so that we had to create a schedule to make sure we fit everything in. Now that fashion week is a much bigger event for bloggers and influencers, more and more brands are making sure they host something. Here is where I’ll talk about getting event and runway show invites. Let me tell you prior to last year, I had NO idea how any of this worked. I googled, read blog posts, watched youtube videos and learned. So I’m not doing anything, you couldn’t do for yourself. NYFW is all about who you know in PR. All the runway shows use PR companies to make the invite lists. The good news is that, the PR companies working for each show is pretty easy information to find online. You HAVE to pitch yourself for NYFW invites. You HAVE to do the emailing work. I did not get one runway invite this year, until I emailed. I told you all I would be really honest lol! You must create a media kit for yourself. If you don’t have a media kit, PLEASE google it, get on Canva.com and create one. Then find what shows you’d like to attend, find the PR company handling invites and send a cold pitch. A cold pitch is an intro email, tell them in two sentences who you are, why you’d like to be invited, attach your media kit, link your largest social page and your website. DO NOT say “it’s a dream of mine to attend, etc.”, keep it simple, “My fashion blog focuses on body diversity and I would love to share [BRAND] with my 65k+ audience”. You will either hear, “Yes”, “No” or nothing. Hearing nothing is better than no! I emailed the PR company handling the Christian Siriano show, a dream show! They responded pretty immediately with a no, I emailed back asking for standing room tickets and they emailed me again with a big “NO” lol! I tried! After about four days of nothing, email again following up. If you haven’t heard a day or two before the event, email once more. You must circle back. When I send out runway invite pitches, I also email any brand connections I have, for brands that will be present at NYFW. For me, I emailed 11Honore because they had a show the year before, ASOS because they have a showroom, Eloquii because they do events for CurvyCon, etc. Let brands know you’ll be in town for NYFW and would love to attend anything they have planned. Once you get to NYC and Fashion Week starts you’ll get so many invites, party fliers, after party hook ups. It’s really about who you know. If you have zero connections, it’s the perfect time to start!
This year I attended the Chromat show, the Christian Cowan show, Dapper Q and Savage Fenty. There was a ticket issue *side eye* with the Savage Fenty show, so I didn’t ultimately get in. I really hate the, you get in, you don’t get in thing so I left before they let stand by tickets in. We went to multiple open houses, events and had an amazing time. I was also there working A LOT. We got our trip sponsored in return for multiple photoshoots, sponsored content, etc. Logan, Michele and I had an AMAZING time! We worked with the only exclusively plus size bridal shop in NY, Ivory&Main, Brassy Bra and Curvy Couture. Brassy Bra was my NYFW secret, I wore them under every outfit. Brassy Bra are the only stick on bras that have ever worked for me. They stayed on all day, doing multiple outfit changes, running around the city.
Did you see me in Instyle Magazine?!
Fashion Week has a LONG way to go for inclusion. The MOST asked question I got was how did I feel as a fat person at fashion week?
I feel like fashion week, let’s us in but isn’t excited about it. NYFW street photographers line the entrance and both years I experienced they didn’t want to shoot my outfits. I thought maybe it’s because I’m not in ready to wear, maybe because I’m not in Fall looks? It’s because I’m plus size. Thin people in very everyday outfits would take all the photographers attention. This isn’t about me getting my photo taken. This is again about equal representation. I shared my thoughts on my Instagram stories, with SO many replies from other plus people saying the same thing. So many black women and women of color told me it was the same thing for them, photographers only caring about marginalized people when they’re famous. There are incredible photographers like Lydia Hudgens shooting exclusively plus people at fashion week for Instyle, which is AMAZING but I would love to think it’s about the fashion, less about the body wearing it. Dapper Q is an all LGBTQ+ show, showcasing exclusively Queer designers and models. I was in the audience, almost crying at how stunning the show and the energy was. It was a celebration. This was the same feeling I felt when watching the Chromat show. Chromat, is a brand that has been on the forefront pushing diversity on the runway. This was the biggest Chromat show to date, with a large audience that was the most inclusive I had ever seen. The line was wrapped around the building to get in. Chromat has multiple plus size models, trans models, disabled models, pregnant models, it was INCREDIBLE. That felt like an amazing moment, other plus size bloggers were in the room and on the runway. Christian Cowan is one of my favorite designers, creating sequin, feather, gorgeous looks. Last year, Lizzo and I were the only fat people in the room. This year, Patrick Starr and I were the only fat people in the audience. Watching this show felt like window shopping and I really hate window shopping. I would LOVE to see plus models in Cowan’s show. He’s so incredible and I see that in the future. I feel we are moving in the right direction, slowly but I’m hopefully we can continue opening the door for more plus people in fashion.
I left fashion week feeling the need to do more, open more lanes for other plus size people. I’m usually a person who jumps all in on an idea without thinking it through, something I’m trying to work on. I left fashion week feeling like I needed to put together a fashion show, similar to Dapper Q, for plus people. After thinking more about it I don’t know if that’s the best way for me to create opportunity. I’ve thought about creating a mentorship program where I bring plus people with me next year or having a pop up event or hiring plus photographers. I’ve had a lot of ideas but I keep coming back to the question, should we as plus people continue showing up to fashion week or do we create something of our own?
What do you think?