For small independent designers, the runway show on perhaps any scale, is supposed to represent exposure, hopefully some new clients, a chance to mingle at the end of the night and show people the face behind the brand.
When you are new to the industry and you get the chance to show it’s an exciting moment, not dampened by you handing over hard cash you can ill afford to lose, to stake your claim in the billing. It feels like you’ve made it. You’re climbing the ladder. You will be a success!
But for all the money and time and stress that designers fork out to get their creations on the catwalk, the recognition is very small. I have yet to reap the rewards from any show beyond a handful of tweets and perhaps something on Youtube.
Essentially for the audience it’s a night out. They’ve paid their entry fee, they’ve done their bit. But don’t forget designers don’t get any of that. At shows they spend, they do not earn. Ticket prices pay for things like room hire, lighting, arrival drinks, photographers. Designers also pay a fee to contribute to the organisation.
In my experience it’s common for lots of people to come up to you at the end of the nighe, take your business card and gush about how amazing your work is. They tell you tomorrow they’re be clicking on your website, dropping you a line about that dress they saw and wanted. Maybe a model will haggle with you in the changing room in the hope of getting something half price because they wore it on the catwalk.
And then you will go back to your studio and wonder what happened. And that’s just the way it is. Very often by the time the show photos are out and the articles and reviews, the event has long since passed. In fashion, new news becomes old news, very fast.
In high end fashion, events such as London Fashion Week or perhaps even Chanel’s extravaganzas, fashion shows are not about making sales and they haven’t been for quite some time. They are purely about showcasing. Brands pay huge amounts of money and lavish expensive free gifts on their special guests in return for them planting their rear on a front seat for the press to catalogue. Noone thinks that anyone is going to buy that £30,000 dress that just went down the catwalk. Because that is not the point.
So perhaps we are all doing it wrong. Perhaps you should not be thinking about fashion shows in terms of how many new clients you can bag, but in terms of people seeing your creations moving up and down a stage on human bodies.