Almost six years ago, twenty-year-old me thought she knew exactly what fashion week would be like: lights, cameras, and action around every corner. I thought I knew what the scene would feel like and which shows I’d go to and just how much traffic there would be. Looking back, I wish I would have taken a step away after that first time at the rodeo, and really considered going back before I started planning for the next one. Now, six seasons later, I’ve finally decided to say goodbye to fashion week, and it’s one of the best decisions I could have made for my brain and my business.
If you’ve never been to fashion week, the first thing that comes to my mind is that you have absolutely no idea. Of course, we all have images of Bryant Park tents flashing forever in our minds from Sex and the City or Lipstick Jungle, but it hasn’t been like that for years. I started going when the shows were presented at Lincoln Center, which was my favorite setup. Now, the shows are scattered all over the island of Manhattan, and it makes for even more of a madhouse than it already was. Besides the top-tier designers who showcase their presentations at dynamic venues such as the Park Avenue Armory or the Russian Tea Room or the High Line, most shows now take place at Skylight Studios in two locations, downtown and midtown. Once you think you know what to expect, tack on about a zillion levels of insanity and you’ll be a little closer to the real thing. It takes at least forty minutes to get anywhere in the city, and unless you have a private car service taking you around, someone’s going to land that taxi before you can even get your hand in the air. You’ll be late to fifty-percent of your shows, and you’ll feel guilty for running in at the last minute or disappointed because you’re too late. Your phone will always die by noon if you don’t have a battery pack, and you’ll always forget to eat until suddenly it’s five o’clock and you’re on your way to your next show, dying for just a cube of cheese.
I do not claim to be an expert about fashion week—for that, turn to Hamish Bowles or Eva Chen. I have my own experiences, but I guess part of my stepping away is out of homage and respect for an age of fashion that once was. Back when fashion week was for editors and buyers who were evaluating collections and predicting what trends would sell months in advance. Even when I first started going, fashion week was a lot more about celebrity star power than blogger street style. Seeing how it has evolved with the fashion industry has been inspiring, for sure, but as with all things that grow and change, there are pieces that get lost in the mix. These days, the front-row celebrities are girl-next-door bloggers just like you and me—I think that’s as cool as the next person, but it is a change of pace.
What I’ve grown most tired of is the hustle. Fashion week starts months in advance, with emails going out to hotels around the city and designers around the world to fill up my time in Manhattan. I am wholly independent and have never worked with an agent, so it’s up to me to build partnerships with brands. Finding hotels that will put me up for free in exchange for blog and social media coverage has always been crucial, and usually this means sending upwards of fifty queries waiting for a positive response. The same goes for fashion shows. I email every single designer on the list for NYFW’s The Shows, requesting an invitation—and still more after that, as many designers present independently and not within part of the collective. Half of them come back positive. The amount of “paperwork” and research that goes into putting together a fashion week trip is mind-blowing.
Another part of it is an industry stereotype. For as many true and goodhearted souls there are in fashion, there is a handful of fakes that are only in it for themselves. As much as we wish that wasn’t true, it’s unavoidably true and just plain unavoidable at New York Fashion Week. You run into several people who will start talking to you for the sole reason of having someone to talk to. It’s the nature of the industry. This can apply to any line of work, of course—my intent is not to rag on the fashion industry, as there is much to enjoy. I’ll say again, there are a thousand wonderful people at fashion week who are kind, honest, and trustworthy. I have met and bonded with some of my best friends at fashion week, and that’s what I want to focus on going forward.
Some of my decision to say goodbye to fashion week is due to growing weary of the things I’ve mentioned above. It’s a lot of work—emotionally and physically—to spend four or six or nine long days in the city that never sleeps, experiencing the kind of lifestyle that gives it that name. But the main thing is, I’m not the style blogger who writes about trend forecasting—I don’t understand it myself. I’ve never been able to afford the designer pieces that are shown on the runways I’m sitting at, and I don’t like going out or partying or drugs or giving air kisses to people I’ll never see again or many other things the fashion week world is about. I’m at a point where I’m working hard to develop a structured and thorough vision for my blog—and as much as fashion week helped me get to where I am today, I no longer see it as part of my future.
It’s wonderful to be able to look past the negatives and truly enjoy fashion week for what it is: a spectacle of the frivolous and fabulous, a celebration of art and culture, or even just an exciting week of catching up with industry friends. Fashion week offers many people a lot of wonderful things, and it gave me six seasons of once-in-a-lifetime memories—most of them good ones. But I’m saying goodbye to make new memories in more parts of the world with fewer expectations and less pressure. I’m looking for a breath of fresh air in the sea of sameness that fashion week cultivates twice a year. That’s the way fashion works, after all. Out with the old and in with the new.