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A Detailed FAQ: What The Hell Is Fashion Week?!

We attempt to answer the age-old question.

For years before I attended my first fashion week, I remember having all these questions about what happens during a show. I would read reviews and watch runway videos – I still do, of course – just to get the feel of what really goes down. When the time finally came for me to go to Milan and Paris, I was again confronted with the same questions. This time, however, they came from my parents who were trying to understand why I had to fly almost halfway across to world to watch models walk in a straight line whilst wearing designer duds. It’s a thing ma, it’s been a thing for decades, I said (still love you!).

Because Spring/Summer 2017 fashion week is slowly creeping up on us, and because some of you may have the same questions, we’ve compiled a list of FAQs that answer the age-old question: What the hell is fashion week?! If you’ve got more questions for us, leave it in the comments below. Don’t be shy!

1. What is it, exactly?
Simply put, it is an elaborate stage for designers and fashion labels to show what they have to offer consumers in the season to come. Fashion brands create numerous collections in a year and fashion week is a way for them to unveil and create hype for a particular collection and, overall, the brand itself. The “main” fashion weeks – though, collectively, it really is a month – take place in New York City, London, Milan and Paris, in that order, and typically refer to the womenswear collections. There are many cities in the world with their own versions of fashion week – like Tokyo, Seoul and Sydney – but they take place off the “main” calendar. Singapore Fashion Week, for example, will take place in October.


2. How often does it happen?
The “main” fashion weeks take place twice a year – in February/March and September/October. There are also the couture collections – also twice a year – which coincide with the menswear collections in January/February and June/July. Typically, menswear collections are shown before the womenswear collections. And finally, you have resort season, though most opt for low-key presentations and lookbooks, save for the regulars like Dior, Chanel and Louis Vuitton.


3. Why are spring/summer collections being shown in the fall, and vice versa?
Well, as far as we know, it is to give ample time for buyers to see the collection, decide what works, make the order and put it in the store in time before the season arrives. It also gives the brands time to market the collection and produce it for retail.


4. By the way, what is the fashion cycle?
The usual sequence is spring/summer, pre-fall, fall/winter, resort (sometimes called pre-collection, cruise or, if you’re Chanel, Metiers d’Art), though some labels add spring and fall couture to the list as well.


5. Will there always be a show?
No, especially when it is pre-fall or resort season. Some brands choose not to have shows, even at the “main” fashion weeks, opting for intimate presentations with a smaller audience, while others choose to unveil collections via lookbooks.


6. There’s that term “fashionably late”. Do shows start on time?
Yes and no. Shows don’t always start on the dot – when everyone from the models to the attendees are coming from prior appointments, it’s hard to keep to the time – but it usually ends before what is stated on the invite, giving you that small breathing space to get to the next show.


7. Who attends fashion week?
Editors, reporters and writers, buyers from multi-label retailers, celebrities and influencers, customers and friends of the brand etc. etc.


8. Where are the shows held in the different cities?
It depends on which city you’re talking about, but there generally isn’t just one venue. There are some cities where a major bulk of the shows is held within the same big venue, like in Sydney. The big labels in Milan and Paris like to hold shows in institutions associated with the brand, like Fondation Louis Vuitton, Fondazione Prada or Grand Palais for Chanel. Show venues are quite all over the place, but still close enough to the city centre so it is easier for attendees to get from one show to another.


9. What about the street style photographers, how do they come into the picture (no pun intended)?
Pictures or it didn’t happen, right? Street style photography has become such an integral part of fashion week now that it seems incomplete without it. I mean, you’ve got so many stylish people in one place, seems like a waste if no one was there to capture it. How is it like for the photographers, though? Read our interview with street style photographer Youngjun Koo of IAMKOO here.


10. What is a day at fashion week like?
We get up, put on our faces, try to get a bite in and take off. The first few days are usually the busiest with back-to-back shows, presentations, re-sees (a more up-close second viewing of the collection) and meetings, so we’re in the car, out the car, at a venue and back into the car again several times a day, all the way into the night. It’s almost like a marathon. Almost.


11. What happens when there is free time?
Free time for Team Kulala doesn’t happen very often at fashion week. So, when we do get some, why, we eat, of course!


Main Image: Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2016 finale/Louis Vuitton (Psst, we just got Facebook. Like us over here, maybe?)

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