Fashion Week 101: what you need to know

Fashion Week 101: what you need to know

Milan Men’s fashion week started on Monday, kicking off the busiest period in fashion. Trends are set, legacies are cemented and celebrities are created. Fashion month (which is now actually 2 months long) means back-to-back fashion shows, presentations, events and parties. Let’s run through everything you need to know about fashion week.

What is fashion week?

Fashion week is a collection of runway shows, presentations and events held in major cities around the world. Traditionally this week is an opportunity for brands to showcase their designs to buyers, magazines and the fashion community. Now, thanks to social media it is a time when the whole world is able to see what each city has to offer.

SS22 Fashion East Front Row (L-R Jourdan Dunn, Lil Simz, Edward Enninful and Naomi Campbell); Photo by Lia Toby/BFC/Getty Images

Where are fashion weeks?

The main cities are Paris, Milan, London and New York, but there are fashion weeks across the globe from Lagos to Miami to Copenhagen. The big 4 have the most prestige due to their history of trendsetting craftsmanship and design. However, every year the newer cities are showcasing more and more interesting talent. 

How do seasons work?

This is probably the most confusing part of fashion week for most, but I promise once you understand the history it’ll make sense. Before social media and fast fashion, runway shows weren’t attended or even seen by the average person until the pieces were available in store. Buyers from department stores and boutiques went to shows and placed large orders. Fulfilment of these orders took about 6 months to allow time to order materials and make the pieces. Magazine editors and journalists also needed this lead time to order samples for shoots to inform their readers of upcoming trends. Thus, fashion shows are presented 6 months in advance. The upcoming fashion shows from January to March are for Autumn Winter 2023. 

 Yves Saint Laurent outside Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, the first freestanding couture boutique

Who organises fashion week?

Because of the spotlight on each city, many brands will host fashion shows or presentations during fashion week. However, unless you’re invited by the 4 governing bodies, you are not part of the official fashion week schedule. Le Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM) for Paris Men’s, Paris Ready To Wear and Paris Haute Couture weeks. Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana for Milan Ready To Wear and Milan Men’s fashion weeks. British Fashion Council for London fashion week and Council of Fashion Designers of America for New York Fashion Week.

Fashion brands can apply or be invited to exhibit/show at each fashion week.

Each governing body has different acceptance criteria, but, the most stringent is FHCM’s criteria for Paris Haute Couture week. To qualify as an official Haute Couture house, members must design made-to-order clothes for private clients, with more than one fitting, using an atelier (workshop) that employs at least fifteen full time staff. They must also have twenty full time technical workers in one of their workshops. Even if these requirements are met, FHCM can still choose to reject an application. As of time of writing Schiaparelli, Julien Fournié and Jean Paul Gaultier are just a few of the only 17 haute couture fashion houses.

Jean Paul Gaultier SS22 Haute Couture Week

Why is fashion week important?

Not only does fashion week dictate the fashion/clothing and beauty trends of the season, they also have a major economic impact on each city. Fashion conglomerates have proven that luxury fashion can be big business, so these weeks also act as key networking events for investors to scout out the next big talent to invest in or to appoint their revolutionary creative director.

So now you’re clued up on the key context and operational background basics of fashion month. What week are you most looking forward to? We’ve put the dates below for you. Tweet us @guapmag and let us know!

You can see more fashion content like this here.

Milan Men’s Fashion Week: January 13th to 17th

Paris Men’s Fashion Week: January 17th to 22nd

Paris Couture and Haute Couture Fashion Week: January 23rd to 26th

New York Fashion Week: February 10th to 15th

London Fashion Week: February 17th to 21st

Milan Women’s Fashion Week: February 21st to 27th

Paris Women’s Fashion Week: February 27th to March 7th

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Jade Rozana