A Beginner’s Guide to Fashion Month
For anyone with a casual interest in fashion, fashion month can seem overwhelming (especially if we don’t have anything to do for it apart from heavy scrolling on social media). There’s fashion weeks all over the world, different shows in different places in different years, and something called FROW. It seems to get more complicated the more you think about it, however, fashion should be accessible to everyone, so we have created a guide for the basics:
What actually is it?
Fashion month is a period of about 4 weeks, twice a year, where fashion buyers, press and *important people* collect in four different cities over the course of the month, to watch designers and brands show case their Spring/Summer, or Autumn/Winter collections.
Historically (or since 1943, anyway) these collections have been shown 6 months before the season they’re designed for, and so available to buy 6 months after the show (e.g. A/W fashion week is held in February, and clothes from those collections begin to be sold in September that year). However, this style of show is changing, and increasingly brands are using a “see-now-buy-now” technique.
Where and When:
The “big four” individual fashion weeks happen in four cities, New York, London, Milan and Paris. There are two fashion months per year- Autumn/Winter collections in February, and Spring/Summer (for the next year), in September.
Which brands show where?
This can vary per year, although brands with connections to a certain city, or based in a particular location, will mostly show there, for example Burberry and London. Apart from the big brands, other up-and-coming or young designers can show at fashion week, however the shows are all self-sourced, meaning that the designer pays for space, lighting, music, and models etc. which can be incredibly expensive for them.
What is “FROW” and why does it matter?
FROW means the front-row of a fashion show. Typically, it’s a place reserved for *very important people* such as editors of huge fashion magazines, supermodels and celebrities. As well as focusing on designer’s collections, outfits worn at FROW are a big deal, and get lots of coverage in the press. As well as FROW, ‘street-style’ looks at what people are wearing to the shows, and outfits can be as cool and creative as the ones in the shows themselves.
What to look out for this fashion month:
Start with the basics, and look for brands you know. In Milan, there’s Gucci, Fendi and Versace. For Paris, try Dior, Saint Laurent, Vivienne Westwood, Ellie Saab. After that start expanding- there’s loads of amazing designers besides the big fashion houses!
Utilise the internet and social media:
To keep up without trying to stream the actual shows themselves, follow designers, models and fashion mags on social media- you’ll see great behind the scenes photos, and be able to “get the jist” without actually being there. Reading fashion magazines is also an easy way to keep up- their websites are normally free.
If you do want to watch live streams, or replays, the best place is:
The future of fashion week:
Slowly, more and more brands are engaging in “see-now-buy-now” methods at fashion week. Topshop’s latest London Fashion Week show ended, and the collection was accessible to everyone straight away on their website; more and more brands may begin to use this style of show. Importantly, a movement for more diversity in fashion month is underway, highlighting the importance of everyone being able to see someone who represents them.
The basics of fashion month often aren’t covered by fashion publications as there is an expectation that readers have an understanding of “how things work”. But contemporary fashion should be readily accessible to anyone with an interest. At LAPP, we break boundaries and empower our readers, and if that means learning what “FROW” means for the first time, or what fashion weeks are even supposed to be anyway, then girl, we got you!
Written by Katt Skippon