IN DEPTH: FIRST TIME AT NYFW : PART ONE

Manda Lee Smith | EvocativelyChosen.com
Manda Lee Smith | EvocativelyChosen.com
Manda Lee Smith | EvocativelyChosen.com
Manda Lee Smith | EvocativelyChosen.com
Manda Lee Smith | EvocativelyChosen.com
Manda Lee Smith | EvocativelyChosen.com
Manda Lee Smith | EvocativelyChosen.com

I spent hours, probably days collectively, researching and reading everything I could about NYFW. I wanted to be prepared, to have some sort of educated idea on what the experience would be like. While the blogs and sites I read were helpful, there are so many things that I feel were left out. I've been itching to write this post to fill in the gaps. I've included all you need to know about your first time at NYFW and the tools, tips, and thoughts that aided me along the way.  Sit down, grab something to sip on, and enjoy the read. 


Before we start, my Day 3 look. The MVP of my trip was definitely this gingham skort from Chicwish. I wore it twice and that's a big deal at FW. I didn't wear anything else twice. I received the most complements and photographer inquiries in it. Not only is it super cute but the fact that it's not actually a skirt, makes it super comfortable and wearable in so many different ways. I paired it with a Vesper top, Zara Blazer, Sunglass LA Shades, Jimmy Choo Bag, and Kurt Geiger Boots. The next evening we explored Times Square and I wore it with an equally amazing transitional Free Soul Halter Neck Knit Top from Chicwish. I believe my skirt is currently S.O but I link other amazing short options from Chicwish directly below. * Thank you to Chicwish for sponsoring this look! 


Where To Stay

The cost to stay in NY, especially during fashion week, can be astronomical. Rooms are sometimes quite small. I'd say most standard rooms would only comfortably fit one style blogger during fashion week. Whereas a standard room here in the south could easily fit 2-4. For a room with a decent review in a good location, prices can range from $300-$900 a night per standard room. Originally, I'd thought about staying at an Air BNB as we could get a much larger space for $300-$400 a night if we weren't directly in Manhattan. However, after having gone, I realize just how important it is to be centrally located and I very much enjoyed the convince of our hotel. If you're thinking about saving a few pennies by staying further away, like I originally pondered, take into consideration the higher cost of transportation. In most cases, it may end up being a wash, so it makes much more sense to be centrally located for convenance. Jackie, Jacob, and I stayed at Gansevoort: Park Avenue in Manhattan. We were 1-10 miles away from all shows and showrooms.

Newbie Guide to Sponsored Hotels

We knew we needed a large home or suite for all three of us to comfortably stay. Neither of us had any experience with hotel or travel reviews so unfortunately, we had absolutely no PR contacts. Jackie reached out directly to the hotels we were interested in to see if they would comp our room or give us a media discount in exchange for post and reviews. She simply got on the phone with the hotels and asked whom she could speak with about marketing/communications/media.  If there's a will, there's a way. I'm so thankful for Jackie's diligence and dedication because we ended up getting an amazing media rate and our suite was less then the cost of some standard rooms. All 700+ SF. Remember that prices can double during fashion week! Be cognizant that the prices you see a few months ahead of time are certain to skyrocket the closer you get to FW. My advice: Stay with a few girls so you can split the cost and contact the hotels you're interested in asking for a comp. If your follower count isn't high enough for a complete comp, don't be afraid to continue the conversation by asking for any sort of discounted rate in exchange for post. If your staying with other girls, discuss your total reach not just your individual reach. Another piece of advice, don't be like Jackie and I by waiting until we were only a month out to try to figure out our accommodations. Start a few months ahead of time. We had one hotel come back and say they would've completely comped the suite had they not been booked and we would have contacted them earlier! 

Uber/Taxi

If you're not one of the lucky ones that's sponsored by Uber or a luxury vehicle brand, don't forget to factor this into your budget. Other then your stay, transportation will likely be your highest cost. Uber inflates it's prices during peek times in NY and Taxis will sometimes take you a longer route if they're aware you're not from the area. From the airport, the best way to go is a Taxi as they offer a flat rate to Manhattan for around $58. That doesn't include tip or tolls. I ended up paying around $74 to the hotel and another $74 back to the airport alone. In between show I definitely recommend using an Uber. With Uber you don't have to worry about them taking a long route to increase your payment. Uber is generally cleaner and when time is of the essence, they usually can pick you up between 3-5 minutes. However, if you managed to have a few spare minutes, you can choose to Uber Pool and ride with other people for a bit of a discount. On average, I'd say our rides cost us between $7-15 a ride. While it seems insignificant, it does add up quickly. Thankfully Jacob had a coupon for $5 off each of our first few rides so be on the look out for deals like that before the trip. 

How To Be Invited

Reach out to any and all PR contacts that you've collected over the past year. To those I've had a close working relationship with, I sent out specific, personal emails asking for any events, presentations, shows, or sheet list they might have come available. Especially since this was my first time. For general emails, I was straight and to the point stating whom I was, what I did, my follower count and that I would love invitations to events and shows. I can imagine the influx of emails PR companies are getting during this time and most just need to get your information into the system so don't stress yourself out feeling like you have to give a long explanation of why you'd like to attend a show. 

Connect with your other blogger friends and ask for contacts and share yours in return. I'm always open to share mine but be aware that some girls won't be so willing. Do some digging and send out as many emails as you possible can. When you think you've sent enough, send double. Head over to designers sites and grab press emails if you can't find anything else. Never think it's above you because it never hurts to ask and I think you'll be surprised at the responses. In hindsight, I know I didn't send nearly enough but hey, that's why I'm sharing this with you guys! 

A good number of the contacts I received from others were to intern accounts and you won't always receive an email back so don't panic! Instead of a return email, you've likely be added to an email list that sends out show invites closer to the date. When the actual invites come in and you RSVP, this is when you're more likely to get a response back. I would say I started getting the bulk of my emails three weeks out but even received some the day before.

GPS Radar App: I had no idea about this amazing NYFW tool! You have to apply, and sometimes it's a bit glitchy, but you can request invites to so many shows and events throughout the year. It's  especially helpful for Fashion Month. My tip for this site would be to request your invites not from your mobile app, but on your desktop/laptop. When you request on the mobile app it sends out a general request to the brand, but on your laptop you're able to send a personal message. I highly suggest sending a message that includes your follower count. This increases your chances of being seated for shows as opposed to just standing. Speaking of seating, you usually don't get seating assignments until the week before, sometimes even a day before the actual show. GPS radar also gives you a code to scan for easy access. While this is incredibly convenient, I suggest printing out physical copies of all invites in case your phone dies so you don't have to wait in a separate line to be verified. 

Photographer & What About A Plus One

If you can bring a photographer do! We had Jacob Mr.Amazing Bean with us, and not only is he like the best time, but truly gifted at what he does! A majority of the time he was allowed to sit with all the 'press' in the pit. He really captured some phenomenal images! This allowed Jackie and I to relax and enjoy the shows without feeling like we had to document every single moment.

 Once you have your photographer how do you get him/her into the shows? Can you invite a plus one? Is it in good taste? I searched high and low on this topic and didn't find one solid piece of information. I definitely went in blind on this one. The PR companies I've built a relationships with gladly obliged and some even offered it up before I asked.  It never hurts to explain to them that he'll be taking photos so you can review the designer in blog and social post. In my experience this year, if you're invited back stage or to do an interview, it's somewhat expected, but don't forget to mention it just in case because they still need to be on a list. For GPS radar, I gave Jacob the direct contacts and he explained he was media and was confirmed for most all. If you are worried about how it may come across, especially at larger shows, have your plus one send the email themselves. 

So I Was Invited-Now What?  

If someone would have told me... just because you're invited doesn't mean you'll be seated or even that you'll necessarily get into the shows. I had no idea. Even if you have a seat, if you're not early or show up late, you might not be able to get in period. 

When you arrive to the show venue, there's a line or two of people that need to check in. It's not organized in any way at that moment. So the lines can get quite long the closer you get to the show times. It's only once you've been checked in that you're ushered to another check-in location and told which line to stand in. There's a line for 'seated', a line for 'standing', and sometimes a line for 'priority standing'. It's only after all the people that have been assigned seats are seated that they begin to allow in those that are in the 'standing' lines. Mind you the venus aren't always large so those that are toward the front of the 'Standing' line tend to get in but multiple shows, I saw them stop at certain points and say they were at capacity. 

Remember when I said that it's imperative to send a personal message on your laptop with GPS Radar, this is why. Luckily I was assigned seats for most shows, but the couple that I had 'Standing,' were the invites I'd sent out over my phone without a message or follower count. You see, your profile on GPS radar is rather vague and while, I'm not certain, I feel it can't be a coincidence that every single one I sent my actual info to, I was seated.

If you are assigned a seat: Be there at least 30 minutes early but I would suggest 45.

If you haven't been assigned or are 'standing': Be there an hour early so that you're one of the first in 'standing' line and are certain to get in and might even get a seat.

If you haven't been assigned or are 'standing' at a hyped show: AKA Phillip Plein (I can't, different post for a different day.) Get there 2-3 hours early. Basically anytime there's live performances your booty better be there super early. I now have some idea of what my parents must have felt like waiting to get me a Furby in the 90's.

Organizing/Schedule/Electronics/Collaborations/Packing

I made up multiple folders in my emails. One for contacts, one for verified rsvp & invites, one for seating, and one for gifting/social events. I'd recommend RSVPing yes to everything and then going through and being very specific to not overlap your schedule. I'd give yourself at least an hour in between shows. I'd also recommend mapping out your show locations and be aware that just because it's 3 miles away does not mean you are going to get there that quickly. 

Make sure you have a schedule on both your phone and a hard copy. Have a portable charger or two... and don't be like me, make sure you charge your  portable chargers. Keep your phone on Low Battery mode and make sure both Wifi and Bluetooth are turned off to conserve as much battery as possible.  

Bring a portable external hard-drive. This is especially important if you have a photographer with you! Also be mindful that you won't have too much time to work. I worked early in the morning or after I got back to the hotel around 12-2am. If you're scheduling collaborative post to be shot during fashion week I highly suggest getting into town a couple days early or staying a couple days late. I scheduled too much and while I got it done, I ended up not attending any of the shows the last day because I had too much content to shoot. 

NYFW is such an exciting time and most brands want to be a part of the fun! A great way to cover your cost is to set up collaborations during your NY stay. It's also a great way to support the brands you love without having to stress out about what you're going to wear! This can be brands you've worked with prior or even new companies your interested in working with! Try to have everything delivered to your house before leaving so you can be as organized as possible. That's not always possible and in such a case you can have items delivered to the hotel if need be. Just be sure to check with your hotels policies before hand!

I ended up with three suit cases and two carry-ons. I wore everything I packed. I packed two outfits a day however, you could just do one if you want to pack light. Depending on your schedule, you might not have a moment to change anyways! I'd suggest organizing everything by day. I laid each look out on the floor and took a picture of it. It included ever single layer and accessory. You have no idea just how helpful that was. I ran out of time, but printing them out and putting them into a journal would have been wonderful too! 

Have you been to NYFW? What was your first experience like? Thinking of going? Let me know any questions that I didn't cover!