The Fashion Runway – Are the Costs Worth It? Designers Tell All!

Fashion shows have become a media spectator sport at a high cost of entry for the designer.

Is the 10 – 20 minute catwalk worth the investment in exposing their work, but more importantly getting that order from buyers?  Read what emerging designers think of fashion shows.  A mixed blessing?

Francesco Rasola | Photo Francesco Rasola and Pavel Lesko

How important is exposing your work through the fashion show medium?

I believe that in today’s globalization it is extremely important, as it allows you to show your name and product to the world. – Mena Lombard 

I find highly vetted trade shows such as London fashion week, GDS and the New York, Milan and Paris shows great for exposure and that would require adequate resources. – Marion Ayonote

Runway shows are a crucial way to connect with press of all kinds – from newspapers and trade publications to bloggers and social media influencers. We always have shown with LA Fashion Council, the events are well-attended and heavily photographed.  Media – social media, in particular – has tremendous reach, an image of ours can travel the world with a single tap. – Stella Proseyn

I haven’t done any big fashion shows of late because I want to focus getting my brand off the ground financially.  To me I think fashion shows only work if you have a substantial following, people that will come to your event, and you’re ready to take large accounts from retailers.  But when you’re starting off, to me it hurts you more because it’s too glamorous.  It takes away from your whole story to you connecting with your market because it’s just a quick 10 minute feature (depends how many looks you’re showing) and after it’s over, let’s move on to the next designer.  They’ll forget who you are by the end of the night! –  Herbert Victoria

I often compare my runways to the album release or a movie premiere; so much design, work, and planning goes into it.  It’s meant to be enjoyed as a complete body work and a production like Art Hearts Fashion truly is the perfect vessel for bringing my creativity to life. – Michael Ngo 

The presentation of my collection during Mercedes Benz Kiev Fashion Days has given me the opportunity to introduce my product live to the public. I think it was important to present my collection live so the public could see, touch, and understand better my design.  The benefit was precisely to be able to interact with the public. I could see the reactions of people on their faces; I could talk with them about my product.  It was nice to surprise people, it can be said that there was an exchange of feelings. The joy of the people was my happiness. – Francesco Rasola

The fashion show serves to affirm my design and makes me grow more and more. – Francesco Rasola

It’s really amazing to present something to the world of fashion and share the stage with people who have been doing this longer or have more notoriety.  It’s great to be humble during these types of events.  It helps keep you level headed and focused on presenting the best collection possible. – LeGrand Leseur

Michael Ngo | Photo Jason Young

With the investment in money and time – not only to design, show, and sell your collection – does the fashion show give you what you want as a means of exposure? Does it meet your expectation in building brand awareness, orders from retailers, or another objective that you may have?

It does, it helps show what’s in our mind for a quick second. We are able to showcase our collections to a larger crowd, reach other potential clients, stylists and buyers. I love the show aspect because it helps remind me why I love designing. On top of that it allows me to catch everyone’s attention and view my story. – Bishme R. Cromartie

Unfortunately, the fashion business is very expensive and the 10 minute runway show does not give you the return but helps to create a media buzz. This is part of the industry and I’m not sure if you can shy away from it when you are just starting out? – Mimi Wong 

I am still learning every day about the fashion world.  Success for me changes day by day, month by month. Monetary success is always the best way to see how someone is doing in our society however I base it on more than just that. Thanks to hard work I’ve been invited to NYC fashion week, shows in Paris and featured in several publications. – LeGrand Leseur

Yes, the runway show—especially on a branded platform like Art Hearts Fashion—does in fact give me what I looking for in terms of exposure and creating brand awareness on two different levels. – Michael Ngo

  1. The first level of exposure comes from the immediate unveiling of the collection during the show while influential stylists, buyers, celebrities, industry professionals and press are seated first and second row. They will experience the collection first hand and will be able to report to their respective fields and for most of them this will be their first peek at MICHAEL NGO so that first impression is very important. 
  2. The second level of exposure is post-show press and follow-up—this requires a little more work but is crucial in creating longevity for the collection and the brand. Working with Art Hearts Fashion, I really learned the importance of having the right production and right models to generate impactful media that will sell the brand and the collection post-show. After the show is over my team and I will compile the runway video and all the photos to put a runway look book and press kit together to send out to influential individuals and potential buyers that weren’t at the show. So yes, putting on a fashion show does give me the type of exposure I’m looking for to build my brand, but it definitely involves a lot of post-show work to keep that exposure up. 
Courtesy of Brendan M Combs

At the time of our interview with Brendan M Combs, he was a recent fashion design graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design [SCAD] and got a “chance” opportunity to show at New York Fashion Week, Art Hearts Fashion. Here is what he had to say:

The show itself is an adrenaline rush. You are making sure the collection is presentable on the racks while you’re talking with people and making sure you’re coordinating with assistants and dressers so that the models are there in their looks before call time. You’re making sure that makeup and hair is exactly the way it was supposed to be, etc. The show itself is over so fast, and for myself, I only see it on a playback video after it’s over. In ten minutes the past few months of working on something is presented to the world. – Brendan M Combs

Feature Image: Courtesy of Style Fashion Week, LA [designer, Mario De La Torre]


Rhonda P. Hill

Founder, Publishing Editor