Lights, camera, action – Tomorrow marks the start of LFW once again so I hope you’ve practiced your pronunciation of all the major designers, got your air-kissing skills nailed, and suitably broke in all of your fashion week shoes (cc Compeed: do you see an increase in sales of blister plasters during February and September? I’d love to know.) Good to go? Awesome. Well, you might all be well prepared, but there may also be that one niggling little thing: Fashion Week Fear. I get it every single season – so much so that I didn’t really bother attending for a couple of seasons – and this year it’s back and bigger than ever.
So what is fashion week fear?
Unfortunately, this time, I have no urban dictionary definition for you – I’m making this a thing right now. And I suppose it manifests in different ways. Did you get as many show tickets as your #fashionfriends? Do your outfits toe the line perfectly of ironically ugly fashion or do they look just ugly – or worse, just fashion? Are your shoes too high to walk in? Will the weather cramp your style? (I’ll break this one to you now – it always does) Will I get snapped and featured in the best street style galleries? Will I care if I don’t?
For me, it’s a little more complicated to describe… It’s not about wearing painful shoes or the awks you get when someone is wearing the same jacket as you (erm, hello, twinning at fashion week is a thing now) My first fashion week experience was spent completely cluelessly blagging my way through the whole thing in my first “real” journalism gig for a now defunct online magazine, pretending like I had the tiniest idea of how things worked whilst inside I felt like a loser in a high school film, surrounded by all of the cool kids. I’d never met the editor of this magazine, or any other team member (and strangely I never did in the whole 8 months I worked for them for free… but that’s another story…) and it seemed they were pretty clueless about it all too so I had zero direction, zero experience with how any of this even worked. I spent 99% of the time feeling like a complete loser outcast with no idea what was going on, and probably Googled “how do i do fashion week plz help me” approximately 163 times. Maybe I should write a post about that instead?
Things got a little better the year I was doing some work experience at the fashion desk of a huge national newspaper. I learnt lots, real quick, from a small but incredibly (and obviously) informed team of pros, and inherited a tonne of amazing show tickets from the other members. But it was imposter syndrome – I was just a little unknown intern charading as a seriously in-the-know journo. Plus, to add extra to the long days, I was freelancing for a fashion website, shooting street style photos by day to write up into daily style reports each night.
Since then I’ve let it all go a little quiet – there was a bit of an internal conflict of wanting to go to fashion week to network and see the shows firsthand, but not wanting to write up a million show reports on my blog as I’d promised in my ticket requests because the truth is, nobody reads them. Why read the show report of a blogger when you can read one written by an incredible journalist with years of experience, who probably had a backstage chat with the designer for a real insider quote on the collection? I’d rather focus on different aspects of the week, more human ones, like the most embarrassing things that ever happened to me at LFW, the weird things I overheard, and strangest things I’d witnessed during the bi-annual event.
And don’t get me started on ticket hierarchy. Half of the reason I don’t apply for tickets is to avoid feeling like the most unpopular girl in school when everyone else is Instagramming photos of their show invites and I’m there harassing the postman like “WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE IS NO POST FOR ME MICHAEL?! CHECK AGAIN! CHECK AGAIN!” – and fyi, the other half reason is because it’s a long-winded process which usually still results in the aforementioned scenario. Effort.
But it was only last season that the centre of all my fashion week fear was realised and brought out into public discourse after the whole Vogue vs Bloggers row. That infamous article simply highlighted the “us” and “them” atmosphere between journos and bloggers that has been the big pink Loewe elephant bag in the room at every fashion week I’ve ever been to. I’ve attended LFW as the awkward hybridisation of both blogger and journalist at the same damn time, and finding yourself slap bang in the middle between the us and the them camps has felt pretty polarising.
Now that I’ve slid into one camp more firmly than the other after taking my blog full time, I feel I’m going to have to prove my right to be there, despite my previous experience working on both sides of the sartorial reporting field. Quite frankly, I couldn’t feel less welcome after being branded “pathetic”, “desperate”, and “pretty embarrassing” by some editors, especially ones that say going to bloggers for style is “like going to a strip club looking for romance” whilst simultaneously letting their publication capitalise off street style articles featuring said bloggers. I’ve constantly felt like an outsider/ imposter/ loser in this notoriously cold, “you can’t sit with us” kind of industry, and this article showed me exactly why through its elitist stance against the new age digital production and consumption of fashion. In fact, it’s made my position feel all so uncomfortable that I’m quite concerned when I meet someone new and they ask me what I do for a living, I might get stuck on the word blogger and accidentally word-vomit something else instead as I see their eyes narrow as my mouth makes a B sound…
“I’m a b-b-b-b-b-b…”
“You’re a what?”
“Burger! I mean, erm, blogger!”
And the feeling of being a loser continues.
Fear not though, too much at least, as it’s not all entirely doom and gloom. There’s something liberating about awkward tensions being aired – like when you and your housemates finally get down to who’s been using all of the tomato ketchup – which is exactly what that infamous article, and all of the backlash it received, managed to do. Maybe this season the only pink elephants in the room will genuinely be the must-have Loewe bags, toted on the arms of editor and blogger alike. And by dishing out the criticism so publicly, the Vogue editors gave us bloggers something to snap back at – a reason to make our voices heard – and allowing us to defend what we do (alongside plenty of other publications). Surely that can only be a good thing.