Fashion Week may seem like an elite industry only accessible to high-ranked editors, reputed reporters and fashion influencers. Yet, if the recent New York Fashion Week taught us anything it’s that, if there’s room for TikTokers, there’s also space for freelance fashion journalists.
Fashion Week tends to take place around February and September in more than 12 cities across Europe, the United States, Asia, and Australia.
If you’re a writer looking to get into fashion journalism, aspiring to cover the events (and be paid for it) or you’re looking to break into the fashion industry as a freelancer, there are plenty of opportunities for you to secure a spot at one (or more) shows.
Where do freelance fashion writers fit into Fashion Week?
Whether it’s in New York, Paris, Copenhagen, or Sydney, Fashion Week is, first and foremost, an industry trade show. Sure, it’s glamorised by celebrities, elite parties, and beautiful clothes, but the main goal is to make a buzz and generate revenue for the industry.
Designers put on a show to get their clothes featured in magazines, worn by celebrities, and bought by consumers.
Magazines generate plenty of content ideas and revenue through their readership and PRs make their money by connecting both.
Since the pandemic, Fashion Week’s atmosphere has been shifting.
The fashion industry gatekeepers are seeing the importance of embracing the general public both on the runway – through varied body sizes – and in the front-to-back rows by selling tickets.
Why? Well, because the industry isn’t generating money and publicity the way it used to.
As a freelance fashion writer, how do you fit into all of that?
PRs and designers are desperate for media coverage. However, there is now more show-seating than there are editors.
As such, PRs allocate a certain number of seats to both influencers and freelance fashion writers who have secured a commission.
Here are the steps you need to take to get a coveted seat at Fashion Week.
Build your fashion journalism portfolio
Securing a spot covering fashion week starts with a fashion portfolio.
In most cases, PRs will only send you a fashion show invitation if you have secured an article with a publication. Getting an article commissioned will require you to show editors your fashion reporting skills and how your coverage fills the gap for their publication.
Publishing at least one fashion-related article – along with other lifestyle pieces – will help you get things rolling.
Women’s magazines, national newspapers, and culture-focused digital publications all have a fashion or lifestyle section you can pitch to.
For example, Vogue Australia covers runway recaps and trend listicles while Refinery 29 or the Sydney Morning Herald accepts opinion pieces, like this great article on Fashion and inclusivity written by fashion journalist and author Amy Odell.[Interested in opinion writing? You can learn more about what makes a great opinion writing piece here].
So begin by pitching fashion stories.
Not only will this fill up your portfolio, but you’ll also make connections with editors who might be looking to commission you when Fashion Week comes around.
Get active on Twitter
While Twitter isn’t the most active place for fashion journalism (especially in Australia), it is a vital tool for industry players around the world.
Why is that relevant to you? Well, the platform is filled with editors from the UK, US, and Europe openly sharing their email addresses and how they like to be pitched.
See, editors based in the UK for example, might not be willing to travel to Sydney to cover Fashion Week.
As such, they’re more likely to commission a freelancer nearby to do it for them. Twitter allows you to connect with a vast number of editors and publications who are interested in sending freelance writers to Fashion Week.
How to catch editors’ and PRs’ attention on Twitter
- First you need to create a Twitter account (if you don’t already have one)
- Then you’ll want to tweet actively, even without a big following. The amount of tweets you’d want to do is up to you, although 3 to 5 times per week may be a good place to start
- Use the platform to showcase your work and request sources using the hashtag #journorequest or #PRrequest.
- Think about live-tweeting a red carpet, retweet the latest fashion news, and share your opinions on trends.
- Use the platform as your professional-but-casual networking stage to talk about everything fashion and stand out to editors.
Sign up for press accreditation
With your portfolio and social media starting to fill up with fashion and lifestyle content, you can jump onto the next step of your Fashion Week journey and take a look at the event’s official website.
There, you’ll have access to any upcoming events and schedules, as well as a tab reserved for Press or Media.
Depending on the city you want to cover, the official website will allow you to either sign up for press accreditation or get access to the public relations agencies covering the event.
For Sydney and London fashion week, the current event sponsor/presenter is Afterpay.
In this case, press accreditation means that Afterpay directly provides you with a pass to cover a certain number of shows.
You can request one by applying under “Freelancer” or the name of the publication you’ve commissioned a story with.
Getting press accreditation is one of the easiest ways to secure a fashion show invitation because it requires the least back-and-forth.
Contact PRs and Editors
Another – and perhaps more secure – way to get to Fashion Week is by directly contacting both PR agencies and editors. I reached out to freelance fashion writer Meehika Barua on Twitter. She has written for Vogue, ELLE, and Cosmopolitan, and covered the Spring 2023 London Fashion Week early September.
We had connected a few months prior on the platform, and I was interested to get her insights on how she secured Fashion Week through this method.
“I asked editors I had previously worked with who weren’t based in my location – some of them were in the US – and that’s how I secured several commissions.
I also contacted PRs to let them know I had locked in press with a specific magazine to get invites.” She adds: “It’s important to think about the publication. For example, Refinery29 both has a team in the UK and the US, so it’s unlikely they will commission a freelancer for this type of content.”
So, how do you go about pitching PRs and editors at the same time?
Start by analysing a publication and pitching its editor some strong angles, mentioning you’re looking to secure an invitation.
Then, introduce yourself to the PR agency organising the show you want to attend. You can say that you’re looking to cover the show for X publication and ask about the potential availability if a commission is secured.
Be transparent about where you’re at, and keep both editors and PRs updated on your progress.
Fill the gap with a unique angle
The reality is that most of the media coverage for Fashion Week is done by publication in-house. So to make your mark in freelance fashion journalism, you’ll need to fill the gap.
This is done by either being in a location a publication can’t cover or by pitching a unique angle.
What opinion or insight can you add to the fashion world? Perhaps you’re able to pair two unlikely ideas together an editor would have never thought of. If your mind is currently going blank, don’t panic. To find your fashion writing voice, take note of articles already out there.
Observe the type of coverage you love or hate and why.
Read fashion news websites like WWD, and look at how one piece of news is covered differently by publications.
For the recent Gucci show featuring Twins at Milan Fashion Week, Vogue UK wrote about 5 things you need to know about Gucci’s Twin-tastic show, Beacon Journal interviewed Twinsburg local Italian twin models, and Fashionista explored the theme of adult twins and cultural appropriation.
So what’s your idea? And why are you the best person to write it? If you need a little more help with crafting your angle, find out what makes an editor say yes to a pitch.
Get your trip sorted
Have you secured commissions and been invited to your dream Fashion Week? Congrats! But why stop there?
If you’ve been invited to cover Melbourne or Shanghai Fashion Week from Sydney, you may be able to get your flight and accommodation covered as well.
Just like you’ve emailed PRs and editors to secure fashion commissions, you can get in touch with hotels, tourism boards, or even the event’s sponsor for assistance on your press trip.
You can pitch a travel story outside of fashion week to do so, and the 90 minute travel writing training gives you templates, tips, and everything you need to know to secure travel support.
Overall when it comes to Fashion Week, the best thing you can do is to get actively involved and think outside the box. Fashion week goes beyond Paris, Milan, or New York, and starting at a smaller event can be to your advantage too.
Once you’ve secured your trip, make the most of it!
Strike up conversations and interview models, makeup artists, and organisers.
As everyone will be in a frenzy before a show, it is best to run your interviews after by going backstage (some PRs will give open access to press) or by catching people as they leave the venue. Once you have plenty of material, pitch to big, small, and niche publications. PRs love a freelancer who shows excitement, appreciation, and sends the promised commission through emails when the event is over.
If you’re looking to break into fashion journalism, attending Fashion Week is a great way to plump your portfolio, experience the glamour, and make lasting connections in the industry.
About the writer:
Laura Alario Avery is a freelance lifestyle writer currently living in Copenhagen, Denmark. Her work has been published in Vogue Scandinavia, Stylist, and Wellbeing. You can find out more about Laura through her website or connect with her on Twitter and Linkedin.