The Fashion Week season is getting closer and closer, and while we keep on guessing on the future trends and sensations, there are bigger games happening behind the curtains. So, how much does a fashion week show cost? This is the big question that tortures not only newly discovered designers but also the industry veterans.
According to a report by Fashionista, you can organize a fashion show for around $200,000, including the production, PR, models, venue, and stylists. If you’re Marc Jacobs, you would not mind spending even a million dollars on a single fashion show (yes, we remember the precedent in 2011).
There are so many details though, so let’s go deeper … much deeper into the matter. Here’s your ultimate guide about how an average fashion show is organized during one of the 4 major fashion weeks in the world.
What’s the Difference Between the Fashion Weeks?
Paris Fashion Week is the most eccentric and extravagant celebration you’ll ever attend in the fashion world. Giant brands like Dior, Chanel, Balenciaga, and others get ready for showcasing the luxury, beauty and the elegance of the fashion scene in Paris. Chic and grandiose runways, splendid decor and every detail dipped in gold… It’s an exclusive party, and if you happen to have an invite, get ready to meet all the “chosen ones” at an exclusive gathering.
New York Fashion Week, on the contrary, is pretty minimalistic. It’s more suited for the contemporary pragmatics, who prefer better organization and opening the doors for new talents as well.
London Fashion Week has always been the shocker! You will be able to spot innovation and originality through all that fog, because the fashion on the catwalk is nothing like the weather outside. It’s daring, rule-breaking, free of standards and clichés. You’ll definitely let a few wows during a single show.
Milan Fashion Week stands out as the last major harbor for the never-ending classics. It’s usually big with menswear and all about glamour.
What is Your Event?
Fashion shows are not the only way of displaying a collection. First of all, you need to decide on the type of the event you’re organizing. Is it a fashion show, a parade, a presentation or even a digital form of showcasing like a movie or an interactive lookbook? You can come up with new and more productive ways of selling a collection or gaining massive PR. If you’ve got life-changing ideas, now is the time to carry them out.
The choice always depends on the designer’s attitude towards traditional shows. Tom Ford, for example, has been experimenting for a while, choosing one-on-one presentations and films instead of a regular show. Many designers are also slowly moving away from fashion weeks as costly and not-so-productive events.
Different types of events will require different resources. For instance, fashion shows require celebrity involvement, decorations, lots of PR, while one-on-one presentations will require more networking with the buyers and customers, and making sure their experience is one-of-a-kind.
What is a Fashion Show Budget?
There is no fixed budget in the world of fashion shows, so this is usually determined before creating the concept and finding the venue. A lot will depend on the budget, and if you’re working with an event management and advertising agency, this is one of the first questions you’ll be asked. The amount you’ll allow them to spend will be the amount of grandeur and luxury you receive back.
In fact, the prices for everything in the industry are diverse. Some well-known stylists might earn as much as $8,000 from a single shoot, while others might be available for $10,000 for the entire week. Same goes for models and celebrities.
Although some fashion designers insist that you can’t really organize a good fashion show for under 6 figures these days, there are still many opportunities for sponsorship and cutting down the budget as much as possible. Makeup, hair stylists, accessories, and more can be acquired through sponsorships with companies like Maybelline, MAC Cosmetics and Schwarzkopf, who are known for sponsoring fashion weeks and TV shows related to fashion.
Partnering up with these companies does relieve the budget expenses a lot. Take out the makeup, hair, and drinks, and the designer has saved thousands of dollars so far.
Who Are Your Guests?
This point is always a topic of ongoing discussion. During magazine events guest lists are comprised by the marketing team AND the writers. When it comes to a fashion show, this list should be handled by the organizing agency and agreed with the designer.
The list will most probably include famous buyers, brand ambassadors, potential customers, celebrities, and the media on the first rows. Buyers and customers are basically the main aim of the entire show, while celebrities help attract attention in the press and keep the prestige.
An important thing to remember, an invite doesn’t guarantee a show-up, so out of 100 individuals invited to the show, a little less than the half will actually show up.
We’ll get back to audience at the end, when the organization of the show is all set up, so keep on reading.
What’s the Venue of the Fashion Show?
The choice of venue for a fashion week show is decisive. A lot of details and, therefore, budget depends on it. Some venues, that are listed and protected buildings, are extremely expensive and they don’t allow any modifications in the interior, so your concept has to be in tune with the decor, not the other way around.
We’ve seen many haute couture parades in venues like Carrousel du Louvre, the Rodin Museum, and the Grand Palais (the favorite venue for Chanel). These buildings breathe couture and are easily adaptable to a couture fashion show concept, so no additional modifications were needed.
Also, the space and infrastructure must be ready to host the amount of guests you’re planning. And naturally, bigger venues are pricier than small ones. A small venue can be rented for around $15,000 (including the four small venues at the Lincoln Center, the official home of NYFW), while bigger spaces start from $50,000 (the gallery spaces at the New York Public Library).
The largest venue at the Lincoln Center, also known as the Tent, is one of the favorites among the designers and also costs $50,000 and up. Many designers tend to choose the Tent despite the high cost, as it’s not only famous as a fashion hub, but also includes lighting, furniture, cameras and many other goodies in the package.
The ideal space for non-couture or less dramatic collections are plain buildings with polished cement floors, white walls, high ceilings, permission to use washable paint and other add-ons for decoration purposes.
The location of the venue is also important. It’s usually in the city, art or cultural center, easily accessible for the fashion show guests and easily noticeable for the rest of the public.
It’s worth noting that the concept and the final decision is always agreed with the designer, while the actual work of location scouting is usually reserved for the agency.
Basic Checklist to Cover
Most of the items depend on your concept and collection, but here is the main checklist that is needed for ANY fashion show that is also a part of the fashion week.
● Location (can be up to $100,000 in New York City)
● Printing services (including invitations starting from $5,000 and up)
● Decor (including floral decoration)
● Furniture rental (chairs, tables, etc.)
● Audiovisual services (including lighting starting from $10,000 and up)
● Utensils hire
● Models or a contract with a modeling agency (from free to $200,000 depending on the number of big names on the catwalk)
● Recording, cameras, photographers, etc.
● Parking facilities
● Hair and makeup (anywhere from free to $100,000)
● Stylist (from $5,000 to $20,000)
● PR (from $10,000 to $25,000 monthly)
Working with the Press and the Agency
If you plan to get at least some PR out of your fashion show, this should also be a part of your budget. During an average fashion week, there are thousands of shows happening in only 7 days, so it is tough to get into the spotlight.
For a start, you need a Press Kit, press release distribution and ongoing coverage on blogs and websites. The press kit is essential for providing easy information for fashion editors and writers even before they visit your show. It’s also a chance to spark their interest and make them want to come.
Most of the fashion bloggers will agree to cover your show free if their travel and accommodation expenses are handled. They will be paid by their magazine, while you pay for their stay.
Then, you will want to have visual content to distribute after the show, telling the entire world about your guests, what they said about you, what they were wearing, what models walked your runway, and more.
Relations with the VIPs and the media are also handled by the agency organizing your event. If you have an advertising agency, and a separate event management agency, the PR should be handled by the advertising agency only, not to allow any leaks or misinformation. They will decide the official spokesperson and work with them on the strategy.
The Costs of Joining the Official Fashion Week
Fashion weeks are always in the center of everyone’s attention, so naturally, there is a fee for joining it. The prices vary, but, for instance, the right to be on the calendar of the Madrid Fashion Week costs around $3,000, and a monthly payment of 300 Euros. The payment, however, is only possible after you’ve met all the requirements set by the local fashion association.
After the application is accepted, designers pay another $3,000 to use the existing facilities, casting models, using the services of the event sponsors for hair and makeup and more. Although it adds up to around $9,000, this price could actually be much bigger if some of the facilities and services were handled independently.
Fashion Show Staff and Models
Working with a modeling agency will cost you around $2,000 for 10 models. However, if you go with a more popular modeling agency or well-known models, the price goes up from $300 per model and more.
There is also a rising tendency for models to volunteer for the show in return for gifts and free clothes. A lot of models are just rising the ladder of stardom so more exposure is always desirable for them. Despite that, designers always invite at least one top-name model to attract media attention.
Makeup artists will charge around $700 for 4 models or free from a sponsor. If your show is taking place in a hotel (which can cost around $13,000, including the room rentals), you might also get a sponsorship from a winery and pay only for the waiters.
Fashion Show Audience
We’re finally back to the most interesting part of the event, the fashion show guests. A lot depends on them, whether the magazines will write about you or not, or whether you’ll sell the collection or not, all this can be influenced by the people attending your show. There are 5 groups of people you want to see that day.
Friends – You can’t skip friendship ties and not invite your best friends and contacts to the show. You don’t really get a material profit from this, but their support is also important.
Buyers – These are the key players of the show. Essentially the entire collection has been put up for them, they must leave your show amazed and impressed. Buyers can bring you good contracts and long-term working relationships that you might benefit from this or next year.
Writers – Bloggers and fashion editors usually get some of the best seats. If it’s a show from a renowned designer, then it’s not really that hard to get the best editors and bloggers to cover the show, but if you’re just starting the career, getting them to attend and then to write a few good lines about you is already a victory.
Customers – There are many people with incredible financial opportunities, who can buy your entire collection right there right now. These people are usually loyal customers of the brand and even if they might not buy anything from this collection, inviting them just to keep the contact is crucial. Many oligarchs and their wives might request to buy an invite and a seat in the first row, and sometimes the invite they buy is more expensive than a collection piece, so designers usually agree to these requests.
Celebrities – Celebrities may attend the fashion show based on an ad contract that obliges them to be present. However, if you don’t have a contract with them as a brand ambassador, you will need to allocate a big chunk of your budget for celebrity fees. Travel and accommodation expenses for this group are, of course, covered by the designer. When they arrive at their hotel room, they should already find gifts specially chosen for them. The packages or the so-called goodie bags include makeup, clothing, shoes, bags, anything related to the brand or the sponsors. If they decide to wear one of those pieces, appear in front of the cameras and mention the brand, even better!
The fees for celebrities depend on their fame and their involvement in the photocall. Natalie Portman, Jennifer Lawrence, and Rihanna are currently the brand ambassadors for Dior (you probably noticed if you’ve seen their red carpet interviews). Kristen Stewart has been an ambassador for Chanel. These contracts usually last for 2 years and are often not renewed as the brand looks for new celebrities that are leading the fame charts at that given time.
Getting Beyonce on your guest list will cost you around $100,000 for a front seat. Rihanna has reportedly attended Karl Lagerfeld’s fall 2012 show in Paris for $97,500.
Chloe Sevigny’s fee is around $65,000, while Kim Kardashian and Blake Lively are both paid around $50,000. Jennifer Lawrence has an exclusive partnership with Dior, where she is obliged to be one of the top players at Dior fashion shows.
One of the celebrity mysteries has been Jessica Chastain’s presence at last year’s Armani Privé show, which was rumored to have cost the designer $800,000, however an insider stylist suggested it is exaggerated. We think $80,000 would be a more reasonable fee.
One of the final steps would be livestreaming the fashion show, if your goal is to attract more public attention. This would cost you anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000.
As you can see, fashion is also a numbers game, and a pretty expensive industry. Behind the extravaganza of Paris Fashion Week, New York minimalism or even Milan chic, is an army of specialists, who are paid according to their name and popularity.
So, if your parents ever told you that fashion doesn’t pay, now you know that it does. Just hope you’re not the designer, as then you’ll be the one paying and keeping your fingers crossed for your investments to pay off.
Photos courtesy of Vogue