Fashion shows are events that define the fashion industry. When people outside of the industry think of fashion, chances are, their mind probably goes immediately to fashion shows. The four major fashion weeks, New York, London, Paris, and Milan are the epitome of fashion year in and year out and if you own a fashion brand, you’ve probably thought about doing a fashion show. This month, we’re going to share some insight into how to execute a successful fashion show. We’ll take you through whether you should be doing a fashion show, the timeline you should consider when doing one, and what factors to be careful of when planning.
Fashion shows are probably one of the biggest annual expenses for a fashion house. Because of this, we don’t tend to see many smaller brands commit to doing them often. So, before you start thinking about how to plan a successful show, it’s important to first consider whether you should plan one. The biggest piece of advice we can give small brands is to look at your finances first and see if you have the extra money to spend. Whilst fashion shows may be one of the best marketing tactics a fashion house could employ, for smaller brands that don’t have the same budget, it could do more harm than good. If your brand isn’t in a place financially to spend tens of thousands of dollars on one show, it’s probably best to hold off on fashion shows for the moment.
Before we talk about timeline, there are some elements you should consider in advance that could impact your timeline. The first and most important aspect to evaluate, is your budget. If after considering your finances, you don’t have as much money to spare as you’d like, but you’d still like to do a show, sponsors are something worth considering. The act of acquiring sponsors, however, takes considerable time. If you plan to go this route, we’d recommend you start at least a year out from when you would like to do your show. The second aspect to consider is how big you want your show to be, i.e., how many guests would you like to invite, as this will also have an impact on how early you need to start marketing the event. The final aspect you want to consider is your concept. The more complicated the set design and theme, the earlier you’ll need to start planning.
Like any large-scale event, a fashion show takes months of thorough planning; it’s not something you could or should throw together in a couple of weeks. Our typical advice to any brand is to start planning your show three to six months in advance. In the next part of this article, we’re going to take you through the timeline of planning a fashion show and what to focus on for each time bracket.
SIX MONTHS OUT
The six-month mark is when you want to begin putting together your team, get your venue secured, and start marketing (if you plan to sell tickets). With regards to your team, this refers specifically to your event team and production team, whether internal or external. You also want to hire a PR team if you don’t already have an internal one. Please also keep in mind that this is for brands who are planning on doing their first fashion show. If you’re considering doing this annually or bi-annually, it’s best to establish a good reoccurring team, as there’s nothing worse than having an unreliable team when you’re already under so much stress and pressure. You also want to reserve your venue during this time, so you’re not left scrambling last minute, but more importantly, you want to start production planning for your set as early as possible. Having a venue confirmed earlier will make everything a lot easier. Finally, if you plan to sell tickets for your show, you want to start marketing at this stage. Since you’re selling tickets and want to sell as many as possible, it’s best to get the word out early. If your show is going to be invite-only, marketing can start a bit later.
THREE MONTHS OUT
The three-month mark is when everything starts to get intense and planning really starts to come together. Starting from the three-month mark, everything will start to get a lot more hectic and time consuming. If you’re not planning on selling tickets, this month is the month you want to start the marketing and PR for your event. To ensure that people can attend your event, you want to give them enough notice to ensure they don’t make other plans, but not too much notice that they’ll forget about it closer to the date. We’ve found that three months is the sweet spot. This is also the month you want to start set production if you haven’t already. Anything regarding the actual runway set-up (lights, set design, etc.) and venue conception should be put into motion at this stage.
ONE MONTH OUT
The one-month mark is when you want to start booking all your talent (hair, makeup, photographer, videographer, casting director, etc.). Of course, if you’re considering booking a very famous makeup artist or videographer for example, you probably want to do this even earlier. You also want to make sure that the collection you are going to show is close to being ready. You don’t want the show date to arrive and not have the collection ready, so this is the month to touch-base with your designer and ensure everything is on track for the show. The one-month mark is also the month you want to do a PR and marketing push. From this month onwards, you want to go in on your marketing tactics and start sending out reminders to any of your guests. How many reminders you send is up to your discretion, however, we would suggest one reminder one-month out, another one-week out, and a final reminder the day before. The final reminder would also have all the venue details attached.
ONE WEEK OUT
The final week is what we would refer to as crunch time. During this last week, you want to cast your models and confirm all other details are ready. This is also the week that anything that can go wrong will go wrong, so expect this to be the busiest week of your year. Some factors that are especially important to pay attention to are music and lighting. Music and lightening should already be confirmed well before this week, but this is the week that you would like to test your music with the venue sound system and venue/show lighting to confirm everything is working as you like. There are tons of little details to confirm this week, so to save yourself an even bigger headache, you want to get everything that can be done earlier completed beforehand, so that this week you can focus solely on fixing anything that needs to be fixed and doing final run-throughs.
Now that you’re familiar with the timeline of planning a fashion show and what you need to do to ensure your show is successful, here are some final things we believe you should pay special attention to during the planning process.
We’ve spoken a lot about budget, but budget is one of those things where you should always expect to go over. There are always unaccounted for, last-minute expenses, and so it’s best to be prepared in advance, then to be caught out unaware.
Whilst new designers may be tempted to do everything themselves and only hire necessary external teams, having a solid internal team is incredibly important. A fashion show is a lot more work than people usually anticipate and it’s not something that one can accomplish on their own, as much as they think they might be able to.
Don’t forget at its core, a fashion show is an event. This means that your guests are expecting a full experience, from the minute they step foot into the venue to the minute they leave. It’s not just about the actual catwalk!
If you can keep all these things in mind when planning a fashion show, you’ll be sure to have an amazing show. Subscribe to our mailing list to learn more about the fashion industry and be notified when we publish another article. You can also follow us on our Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook, to keep track of any future events, recommendations, and discount codes.