We have been getting so many requests from designers and brands wanting to show or activate at Paris Fashion Week that we decided to help de-mystify the Paris Fashion Week and break it all down for you. Paris Fashion Week is a bit different from New York Fashion Week because the Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (La Federation or FHCM) controls the official calendar. They determine who is officially showing at Paris Fashion Week. This past September/October there were just over 70 shows on the official calendar versus the close to 300 on the NYFW schedule. It doesn't mean that there are not a ton of shows that happen that are not on the official calendar, but there is no democratized website listing everything like FashionCalendar.com run by the CFDA, although FashionWeekOnline.com does a great job listing shows. For NYFW, you can have an off-site show and submit it for consideration the FashionCalendar and designers who might be smaller than Alexander Wang or Louis Vuitton can have their show listed, even though it is not on the CFDA's abbreviated "highlights" calendar. In Paris, there is not an opportunity for a listing like this and only these shows listed with the Federation are considered part of the Paris Fashion Week calendar and they own the rights to the PFW logo and name. So, what do you do if you want to show and are not accepted to show with FHCM? There are a variety of options, but designers should beware of production companies that offer you the opportunity to show your collection for a price that seems to good to be true. Often these companies are preying on designers with big dreams of showing at Paris Fashion Week promising them a gorgeous runway show full of buyers and media and they end up with a show in a location far away from all of the big shows with bad lighting, bad models, no real buyers or media and nothing for the designer to gain from showing. There are a few smaller production companies that do offer designers value and hire agencies like us to help them get the right people to the show.
As a designer the number one question you should ask when considering a production company offering you a 'package' is who their PR agency is. If they say they are manage that in-house, you should be very skeptical because there is no way that they would have the time necessary to devote to researching and cultivating the right contacts unless they have a whole department with at least 10 team members solely working on PR initiatives. The second question you should ask is to see photos from previous shows for an entire collection shown. A lot of production companies advertising packages put a select number of photos showing the best shots taken and many of them have been edited to look their best. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but for a designer one of the key value points you will get out of showing in Paris will be a full set of photos of the collection shown on models. These photos can replace the need for an expensive photoshoot and can be used for lookbooks, linesheets, social media content, advertising, promotion and so much more. The photos are what sell the collection. So, if the photos are not good, then you have nothing to work with and will see no results.
We have worked on shows for both NYFW and Paris Fashion Week and we have found that NYFW is really a big focus on press and buzz for your brand worldwide, so if that is your key goal, I would stick to NYFW. Paris Fashion Week is more intimate and can allow you the opportunity to connect on an intimate level with influencers and if you do a tradeshow or have a showroom appointment schedule, you can truly connect with buyers. Market week runs concurrent with the runway shows, unlike NYFW, so this is a great chance to connect with buyers. However, don't think they are going to come to your runway show. You really need to set up a showroom in the heart of the action and have a sales person make appointments.
So what are the opportunities available for Paris Fashion Week? We have listed a few that we think are great options for fashion, beauty or lifestyle brands.
Host a party, brunch, dinner or intimate event with influencers and editors. Unlike NYFW, Paris is not yet saturated with events and activations. We get amazing talent at even the smallest events we produce during Paris Fashion Week and the feedback we get from influencers is that it is less chaotic.
Host a salon presentation with a champagne reception. A presentation is a great way to do something in Paris, capture great photos and get great attendees on a smaller budget. It is more attractive to an editor, influencer or buyer to attend because they don't have to arrive at a set time and can come and go at their leisure. There are so many gorgeous spaces in Paris that you can get great campaign images while you entertain editors, influencers, stylists and buyers and connect with them on a more intimate level, all on a smaller budget.
Offer and coordinate a photoshoot for Influencers. One of the key motivations for an influencer to attend Paris Fashion Week is to secure amazing content for their social platforms and you can get some amazing collaborations with multiple influencers for a fraction of the cost of a more formal collaboration by coordinating a photoshoot for them. Our agency has contacts with awesome influencer photographers, knows key locations to shoot and can coordinate those things that are hard for influencers abroad such as a location to change outfits, hair and make up teams, etc.
If you are looking to do a runway show, expect to spend in excess of $100K USD for a small runway show, unless you work with a smaller producer working on group shows. If you do decide you want to have a runway show, we recommend Oxford Fashion Studio. Full disclaimer: They hired us the last few seasons to do their PR, but that actually gave us insight into their process and the fact that they do really provide value for clients considering the small amount of money designers pay for a show.
We offer honest and real consultation for $150 per hour for both New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week to help guide your brand into selecting the right opportunity. We know all of the players and can give you candid advise on the pros and cons of options available to your brand. If you would like to schedule a consultation please contact us today!