Your Guide To London Fashion Week
Journalists, bloggers, buyers and others in the fashion industry flock to London Fashion Week to see the latest fashions for the upcoming season. The five-day event showcases many designers with multiple events beyond the runway shows.
While traditionally meant for industry insiders, the Fashion Week events are increasingly accessible by the fashion-loving public. That’s great news for you, the fashion lover, even if you don’t have connects to hot designers or a fashion-based job. If you want a sneak peek at the newest fashions, check out our guide to help you experience London Fashion Week.
What is London Fashion Week?
London Fashion Week is a five-day clothing trade show that takes place twice per year. The British Fashion Council, a not-for-profit organization aimed at promoting British fashion designers, coordinates the bi-annual London Fashion Week events.
The show highlights the upcoming fashions from top designers, giving industry insiders an early look at the trends that are ready to hit the racks. This fashion event is one of the top four events of its kind, along with New York Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week and Milan Fashion Week, making it an exclusive event in the fashion world. It’s an event many people want to attend, but which few have access to tickets.
During the event, London Fashion Week models walk the runways, modeling fashions from top fashion designers. It’s a chance to not only see new fashion trends, but also be one of the first to see up and coming new designer labels. Many breakout designers get a chance to shine at London Fashion Week.
The catwalk shows rank as the most sough-after events of London Fashion Week. Each designer included in the event hosts a separate runway show. Invitations to the runway shows are on an individual basis. If you are a fashion industry insider, you’ll likely receive invitations from a variety of designers.
When Is London Fashion Week?
For those wondering, “When does London Fashion Week start?” the answer varies from year to year but falls within a similar window. The London Fashion week dates typically fall during February and September each year, with the event lasting five days instead of a full seven-day week. The fall show for 2016 runs from Friday, September 16 to Tuesday, September 20.
The designs displayed at the February show feature autumn and winter fashions. The September Fashion Week runways display the spring and summer collections of participating designers. Why do the shows highlight fashions so far away? Before social media brought everything to the internet immediately, buyers and editors had time to decide which of the looks should make it to the store racks and glossy magazine pages.
While the official season system remains intact, some designers are opting for a shift in designs, allowing consumers to buy the clothing right away instead of waiting for the following seasons. Burberry, for example, decided to take a more global approach, putting pieces from London Fashion Week on sale immediately after presenting at the show. This model better fits the increasingly social media obsessed world, where the fashion show streams live and attendees plaster images from the events across the web.
Who Attends London Fashion Week?
The traditionally invitation-only event focuses on big names in the fashion industry. Common guests are those who have pull within that industry. If you have pull in the fashion world, such as buying power for a retail location or a blog with lots of unique views each month, you’ll likely see invitations arriving without any further prompting.
Celebrities also jet to London to take in many of the big-name designer shows. Topshop Unique and Burberry are two Fashion Week shows known for flying in celebrities to get some serious star power in the audience. London Fashion Week is a good opportunity to do a little celebrity spotting, even if you don’t make it into the front row — or any row — of the likes of Burberry.
Increasingly, London Fashion Week lets the average person without fashion industry credentials in to some of the events. Those attendees from the general public typically have at least some interest in fashion and upcoming trends in clothing. Unless you can find a way in to those big-name shows, don’t expect to get up close and personal with many celebrities during the event. You may spot a celeb from afar, but you won’t likely get any face time.
Where Does London Fashion Week Take Place?
Attendees descend upon the trendy Soho area of London for many of the scheduled events. The London Fashion Week schedule includes many of the major events at the Brewer Street Car Park, an iconic building now used as a creative space. Another draw for this venue, which replaces the previous Somerset House venue, is a location near shopping districts, including Oxford Street and Bond Street.
The BFC Show Space within the Brewer Street Car Park hosts many of the scheduled catwalk shows throughout the five days of the event. Designer Showrooms also set up shop in this location, with more than 100 designers displaying collections for Fashion Week attendees.
Not all designers use Brewer Street Car Park as their staging area. Some choose different locations to set up showcase areas. Some even host their runway shows in locations other than the dedicated catwalk area at Brewer Street Car Park. This allows each individual designer to create an ideal setting that reflects the personality of the label. If you have a particular designer in mind, check out the specific location for the show.
Other events take place throughout the area. Some of the other locations include the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Old Spitalfields Market, Elms Lesters Painting Rooms and The Vinyl Factory.
Is London Fashion Week Open to the Public?
This is a tricky question. Although the public isn’t technically prohibited from attending the Fashion Week events, most require tickets that are difficult to get your hands on, unless of course you’re a fashion industry insider. Bloggers in the fashion niche have a good chance of scoring access if they have lots of fans. They even have the opportunity to apply online. The most successful applicants get many unique page views each month and have a strong following on social media channels.
Many London Fashion Week designers want the general public to get a seat along the runway, so they are finding ways to get more people in to their shows. Some even give away tickets to their runway shows to people who might not otherwise gain access.
Another option to get your hands on London Fashion Week tickets is to plead your case to the British Fashion Council and hope they find your reason for attending valid.
If you strike out on getting tickets, the British Fashion Council hosts several events around the city during Fashion Week, many of which are open to the public. Those events vary from one season to the next, but may include cocktail parties, pop-up markets, special fashion tributes and talks on trends. This gives you a chance to get close to the fashion action without having connections.
Many people simply want to be near the action of London Fashion Week without actually attending any events. The Soho area is abuzz with fashion throughout the event, making it the place to see and be seen. You may catch a glimpse at fashions debuted at the show, celebrities, fashion industry experts and fashion enthusiasts with on-point style.
What is the Appropriate Attire for Events?
London Fashion Week is an event focused on fashion, so paying special attention to your look is a must if you’re attending official events. Showing your style by sporting on-trend fashions helps you fit in with the fashion experts. If you want to draw attention, don’t be afraid to show up in a creative, chic or eccentric outfit to stand out from the crowd.
Consider your footwear carefully. While you want to look fashionable from head to toe, a flat shoe is often a more comfortable choice and much safer on the myriad of surfaces you’ll likely tackle while trekking to events. The walk from one event to the next is also harder when you’re balancing atop high heels. Keep the shoes trendy yet comfortable for your own sake.
What are Some Other Tips for London Fashion Week?
You’ve decided to head out to London Fashion Week. The event is busy and crazy, so preparing yourself helps you enjoy the experience and take it in fully.
Here are some other interesting and useful tips for one of the most popular fashion events in the world:
- You don’t have to enter London Fashion Week events to see extravagant fashions. You’ll see plenty of attendees in some pretty amazing fashions in the vicinity of the Fashion Week events. Head to Soho for some very interesting people watching during the events, even if you don’t have a ticket.
- London has perhaps the most “anything goes” mentality of all the major Fashion Week locations. If you plan to attend, don’t be afraid to go all out with an eccentric look. Chances are, you won’t be the most flamboyant person in the neighborhood.
- Make sure your London Fashion Week outfits express your style. Just because many people opt for flamboyant outfits doesn’t mean you need to follow suit if it doesn’t fit your personality. Show your own personal style when you show up for London Fashion Week events.
- Don’t let your phone battery die. Whether you plan to people watch near Brewer Street Car Park or have tickets to events, you’ll likely snap lots of photos. Keep a backup charger on hand to ensure your smartphone doesn’t die just before you spot a celebrity or see a fashion trend you want to replicate. While you’re at it, play around with your Instagram filters or brush up on your photography skills to get the best possible shots throughout the event.
- Plan your event schedule wisely. Because of the various locations for both runway shows and other events associated with London Fashion Week, scheduling plays an important part in planning your day. Identify the locations of all the events you plan to attend. Plan your route, allowing extra time to account for delays. With so many people in town for the event, traveling from one location to the next can take longer than usual.
- Get in shape. Fashion Week attendees often scurry from one event to the next. Avoid being winded by working out before you head to the event.
- Arrive early if you’re lucky enough to get tickets to shows. If you arrive right on time or late, organizers could deny you entry into the show.
- Regent Street is a great place to get involved in London Fashion Week. You’ll find a variety of fashion-related activities, including talks and fashion illustrator sketches. It’s a great place to feel close to the action.
What is London Fashion Weekend?
The London Fashion Weekend takes place immediately following London Fashion Week. It’s a great way to get the feeling of London Fashion Week with greater access, especially if you don’t have a well-known name in the fashion industry. This year, the event runs from Thursday, September 22 to Sunday, September 25 at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea.
With an emphasis on retail, London Fashion Weekend is open to the public, giving you the chance to snag pieces from a number of brands.
Several fashion designers and other fashion gurus present as part of the talk series during the four-day event, which takes place after both the February and September shows. Four of the designers from London Fashion Week present their runway shows again during London Fashion Weekend, giving you a chance to experience the rush of the catwalk. The catwalk area also hosts Trend Shows throughout the weekend event. These special shows highlight upcoming seasonal trends along with styling tips from fashion industry experts.
Since shopping is a highlight of this event, you can expect to interact with plenty of retailers, and even snag pop-up offers from more than 150 brands. London Fashion Weekend sponsors also host a variety of activities, which may include beauty and hair treatments.
London Fashion Weekend does require tickets, with a range of packages from basic to premium for a custom experience.
Is it Possible to Catch the Action if You Can’t Make it to London?
If you can’t make it to London this year or can’t snag the tickets you really want, try watching London Fashion Week from the comfort of your home. The London Fashion Week Live streaming channel
lets you catch much of the action remotely.
A new way to watch shows is to head to a rooftop-cinema location that shows streaming coverage. Last season, the streaming events took place at 60 outdoor spots in various United Kingdom locations, such as Manchester, Edinburgh and Birmingham, in addition to London locations. This lets you share the excitement with other fashion enthusiasts without getting an invite to the actual shows.
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