Updated July 23, 2016

Other Views, Other Voices...


This article is sponsored by Citadel Security: The "Gatekeepers" of the New York Shows.

We all know that with hard, deceptive work and a good dose of moxie it's possible to get over on the world, at least temporarily. The New York Times 'The City' section article "No Invitation? No Problem!" reveals a whole industry of such hard workers where gate crashing is an art you can learn in a course at The Learning Annex (how New Age to offer a curriculum ranging from gate crashing to Deepak Chopra, everything you need for this life and after.) I almost admire this kind of cleverness and drive as long as it is motivated by some true purpose: true purpose may be to serve your own career but it should also contribute something to the industry. The career gate crashers are disturbing when they only take and never give back, there for themselves and not the industry.

Ultimately it is our works that carry us through and if your work does not legitimately give you reason to be there, then you are taking the place of someone who does. But that's the rub. Let's say you are the next Marc Jacobs, young, talented, charming. Or a budding Guy Trebay, Eric Wilson, Cathy Horyn, Robin Givhan, with bon mots bursting in your brain. Or the next Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington, or Andre Leon Talley. But you have no connections and no idea how to get them. You want to get IN, into the industry, into the fashion shows. How do you do it? Below is a guide, a kind of "how to." But be ready to back up your endeavor with hard work, talent and time. All others need not apply. This is not an overnight miracle. BUT, hook up with the right guardian angels and you may find yourself in some pretty magical places.


Perhaps it sounds silly but the first step is, get a job, any kind of job. Whatever area of the fashion business you are interested in, find work as close to that dream as possible. Do not limit yourself in what you do. Persevere. Work in the industry is a foot in the door. And with that foot in the door you meet people, make connections, learn about the business, discover mentors, hear about other job opportunities -- even get invitations to fashion shows and parties. Andre Leon Talley started his career sweeping the floors of Andy Warhol's Interview offices. Marc Jacobs worked at Charivari while attending high school. Anna Wintour assisted Carrie Donovan at Harper's Bazaar.

If you can, find a company with growth potential. A low level job can turn into a high level career with that same company. Admire Prada, Rodarte, Calvin Klein, Zac Posen, Dolce & Gabbana but cannot get work in the design room? Get a job in one of their stores. Want to be a stylist? Find a photographer and develop imagery together to build a portfolio from which you can get paying work. Or assist another stylist from whom you can learn. Want to be a photographer? Go to school. If you can’t afford a full course load then take classes. And use YouTube.

Photographers I know, working photographers, use YouTube videos to learn how to use software like Photoshop. Then shoot, shoot and shoot some more. Offer model agencies to test-shoot new models to help build their and your portfolios. Try and borrow clothes from young designers who then can use the photographs for their own promotion. Be there at the ground level and perhaps you can become part of the team as success comes to you all. There are many different areas in the industry; work in one may lead to work in another. Become friends with fashion industry folks using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn. It's "not about mainstream thinking" says Mary Loving a thirty year veteran of the fashion and public relations industry. "To be successful you have to be creative and bring a new ingredient to the business." That new ingredient may very well be, your Self.


If finding a job is difficult and a paid internship is not available then find an unpaid internship. Use job sites like Indeed.com, Simply Hired or Experience.com; or dedicated intern sites like Internship.com. Google internships and see what comes up. Interested in media? Try mediabistro.com. Cold call. Especially in the months immediately prior to Fashion Week, there may be a need for extra help. Interested in Public Relations and Marketing? Try PR companies. Interested in design try fashion houses. Production? Talk to the companies who put on the shows and serve as backstage support, offer your services as a volunteer. Even though you are offering up your services for no pay, make sure you have an up-to-date resume and any work samples to show why you should be selected. And if there is nothing available now, they will have something to keep on file for future. Follow up, to keep those connections alive, by checking in or sending updated information and work samples. Stay on their radar. Work hard, be responsible, be reliable, and what was for no pay can turn into a paid job.


Start your own project. If you write, create your own website or fashion blog. Or use site services such as WordPress or BlogSpot or Tumblr or Pinterest or Fancy. With a blog you can join with other fashion blogs and gain industry exposure by belonging and contributing content to such network sites as Independent Fashion Bloggers. If you don’t write particularly well make it visual. Take your own photographs or hook up with a similarly ambitious and talented young photographer. Write brief captions to your photographs or simply title them and post them to Instagram. As you wish. Come from what you love and put your heart, passion and hard work into it. Promote the blog on your social networks and learn about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to gain a wider audience.


Some well-established fashion gurus only post to their blog and then tweet the links and simultaneously post to Facebook, Linked In and Twitter. Start posting your favorite fashion photos using the above sites and develop a following. Build it and they will come. And, there are important bloggers. and popular Twitter and Instagram users who not only attend fashion shows the world over but sit front row; photography bloggers who now work for major magazines and shoot major designer, advertising campaigns.


Find out what's going on. The bible of all bibles in the fashion world was once the Fashion Calendar (Fashioncalendar.com) which is now owned by the CFDA and is no longer what it once was when publisher Ruth Finley owned it. Still, some events are listed on the Fashion Calendar with contact names and numbers. The problem with the Calendar now is many events especially high profile ones during fashion week are not posted. Still, If you have a chunk of change to spare ($550) you can subscribe to it) If your budget is more limited lookonline's DFR: Daily Fashion Report blog and website offers good information in exchange for your support for a very reasonable cost ($59 contribution for 1 year) - as well other features to keep you in the know. Supplement this with other sources like Fashionweekdaily.com, businessoffashion.com, New York Social Dairy,Vogue.com, WWD, only online now (which will always contain calendars of fashion shows but not contact numbers,) New York Magazine, cable fashion show reports, and hundreds of other fashion bloggers of varying quality.

Many events will be by invitation only. No invitation, no access. If you are a legitimate member of the press you can request coverage of the event but this may also be limited to amount of press and to where you can go. Legitimate means your work, writings, photos, video footage, appear regularly in a venue or several venues. It could be your own venue. If you are an employee of standing either in the retail, magazine, internet, or television worlds, you may get an invitation but even this is no guarantee depending on space. If you are not "important" enough to be invited check with your fellow workers, your boss or your network of connections for an extra invitation.

The good news is often times, especially at fashion shows, arriving early with an invitation can get you in. Be warned however, the more well-known designers may also have a list of names at the door. Sometimes they can even check for I.D. (FashionGPS handles invites to the IMG shows and can match photos with names on invites.) If you are not on the list you are not in the door, invitation or not. As a last resort you can go to the event. Extra invitations are hard to come by, you may even risk a reputation as a gate crasher but it is a good way to meet people in the industry. You might, during fashion week, find free passes to parties being held at clubs around town. This is the beginning of your networking.

Also during fashion week there is sometimes standing room access if you are willing to wait in line for everyone else with invitations to be let in first and take the chance there is room left over. You have to first get to the check-in table. If you can get in the door and get to the check-in table, make your case for why they should even give you standing room access. If you can make that happen, you may get in to see the show. Many times you would be surprised how many big shows you can get into if you are willing to just make the effort and show up! And finally, if you can spend an entire week at the shows you can try becoming a volunteer with IMG New York Fashion Week. They recruit quite a number of volunteers to help run the shows. Just don't wait for the last minute!


Fortunately or unfortunately connections count for a lot in any world and especially the world of fashion. Make a powerful enough network for yourself however and it can even compensate a lack of talent. If you are not the daughter, son, niece, nephew, friend, you must make your own connections. If you are considering school attend a school in Manhattan, the capitol of American fashion; F.I.T, Parson’s, L.I.M., School of Visual Arts. Go out. Go to clubs, art openings, hot restaurants (even just for a drink at the bar,) parties, fashion shows, any industry functions you can get into. Meet people. Get yourself on mailing lists, become active on social networking sites frequented by industry leaders. Be seen enough and there are those who will invite you because they want you to be seen with them. Of course you must look fabulous, fabulous enough to stand out from the crowd. Make a statement; a fashion statement followed up with sincere hard work. It is the only true path to making your mark in this business.

- by Laurie Schechter

About Laurie: She created Rolling Stone's first fashion section, pioneering its style, format, and publication schedule. Laurie would combine fashion with various pop culture figures (musicians, movie stars, and sports icons), a concept still used by the magazine today. At American Vogue as the first Style Editor, Laurie was in charge of both the "View" and "Living" sections, overseeing stories on fashion, home design, decor, and the elite personalities of those worlds. Laurie is the first and only Vogue editor to successfully handle the "View" and "Living" sections simultaneously. Moving to Allure, Laurie had to be replaced at Vogue by four people. Laurie Schechter has also reported and styled fashion stories for EIle, Interview, Conde Nast's Traveler, Spin, Harper's Bazaar, and Town and Country magazines. She has done trend forecasting for various major fashion retailers, footwear companies, and television programs.

DFR: Daily Fashion Report: New York Fashion Week Coverage