5 Lessons from Crashing MFW
Milan Fashion Week 2019
For as long as I could remember, I have always wanted to attend Milan Fashion Week. Without the right credentials or connections in the industry, I knew it would be difficult to gain entry to the event, but not impossible.
Milan Fashion Week is typically reserved for industry professionals, designers, buyers, journalists, and celebrities. That being said, there are a few ways in which you can obtain the golden ticket.
WARNING: It's important to note that crashing events is generally not encouraged behaviour, but if you happen to do so, then here are some of the lessons you may learn first hand...
September 2019, I happen to be living in Italy around the time when MFW was set to take place. Having watched the shows on Instagram and Youtube in the past, this year, I was determined to attend the shows in person. Easier said than done. Yet if you know me well, you know that one of my mantras are: when there is a will, there is a way. So with lots of research, determination and valuable insight from industry leaders (who I will not name :P), I managed to find my way in.
Attending the highly anticipated and exclusive event was an exhilarating experience. Some of the highlights included having the privilege of sitting right beside Nina Garcia, editor-in-chief of ELLE at the Salvatore Ferragamo SS20 Runway Show at La Rotonda della Besana, discussing the latest Armani Runway show with prominent British journalist and fashion critic, Suzy Menkes and being in the presence of the legendary of Giorgio Armani at the intimate Giorgio Armani SS20 Runway Show. Yet I never thought I would gain valuable lessons from attending MFW that would serve me in my career in fashion and life.
1. CONFIDENCE IS CRUCIAL
While I attended the MSGM, Salvatore Ferragamo & Giorgio Armani show and spoke to professionals from the industry, I believe that I was given time and attention because I demonstrated confidence. I believe that confidence alone, made them more inclined and willing to have a discussion with me.
Confidence is important in any industry, but especially in fashion. Fashion is all about taking risks and pushing boundaries. In order to build confidence in yourself, it is important to focus on your strengths, to have deep convictions and to take risks when appropriate. Confidence can help you make decisions more quickly and decisively, which can be important in a fast-paced industry. Focus on developing a positive attitude, practicing humility, being a good listener, and showing empathy towards others. Being confident in your own style and abilities will definitely set you a part. The professionals you meet in the industry will more likely to take notice and want to work with you. Additionally, it's important to remember that confidence is not about being better than others, but rather about being humble, believing in yourself and your abilities.
2. SOCIAL CAPITAL
When I attended MFW, I noticed that amidst several discussions, I mentioned some people in my network and often times when I did, I was immediately more credible. Especially when I mentioned how I knew them and the proximity of our relationship.
For individuals, social capital is important because it is an important source of power and influence. It can be the determining factor that assists people to 'get by' and 'get ahead'. A strong network can provide access to job opportunities, internships, and other career opportunities that may not be publicly advertised. Many jobs in the fashion industry are filled through word-of-mouth referrals, so having connections and knowing the right people can be a huge advantage. The people you meet and maintain relationships in the industry may eventually become your mentors or career advisors and this can be invaluable for your professional development. Mentors can provide guidance, support, and advice on navigating the industry, building your brand, and achieving your goals.
3. KNOW THE PEOPLE IN YOUR INDUSTRY
When I saw familiar faces at the fashion shows (bloggers, celebrities, designers etc), I remember going up to them and calling them by their name and mentioning what I looked up to them for. Having been prepared knowing these individuals names, their career background and some of the current projects they worked on, helped me understand where to lead the conversation.
To make the most of networking events in your industry, it's essential to study and familiarize yourself with the professionals in your field. This means understanding their backgrounds, accomplishments, appearance, and any other relevant information. By having this knowledge, you'll be better equipped to engage with them in conversation and to make a lasting impression. In the fashion industry, relationships are paramount. Having the right connections can open doors to exciting collaborations, job opportunities, and establish your credibility as a valuable player in the industry. To succeed, it's crucial to proactively cultivate and maintain your connections by attending industry events, staying engaged on social media, and building meaningful relationships with other professionals. By doing so, you'll be well-positioned to seize opportunities.
4. PICTURES ARE WORTH 1000 WORDS
Most of the people I recognized at the fashion shows, I asked to take a picture with. Especially the individuals who I intended to keep in touch with.
Unlike words, images have the power to evoke emotions in a profound way. A single image has the capacity to express feelings of joy, sorrow, or wonder that words alone may not be able to capture. Furthermore, images can offer clarity and context to a message, as the human brain is wired to process visual information more efficiently than written information. If you want to stay in touch with someone you've met, consider asking them for a photo. You would be surprised how you can use this image to spark their interest and curiosity...
5. STAY IN TOUCH
Post fashion week, I reached out to some of the people I met at the shows through Instagram, LinkedIn and by email. In each messaged I sent out, I would sign off the message with a picture of the both of us so that they remembered exactly who I was.
After meeting professionals at an event, it's a good idea to follow up with them by sending a direct message on Instagram, a message on LinkedIn, or an email. Express your appreciation for the opportunity to meet them and mention that you would like to stay in touch. Consider asking a thought-provoking question to spark an interesting discussion, and don't forget to include the picture you took with them as a nice touch to end your message.
Have you ever attending any events during fashion week? If so, what did you gain from your experience? Let me know!