That I feel reasonably at home at NZFW nowadays is hardly to say I always did. In fact, being here again often reminds me of the unfortunate way I did start out. One of my friends (and once photographer) Mallory – long-time followers may recall the name – joined me at a show just yesterday. We talked of old NZFW posts here on Currently Loving, particularly our previous shoot locations (if behind restaurants of Wynyard Quarter is deserving of such credibility). Around this time, blurry photos were acceptable. So too was shit lighting and quoting yourself in your own post (please, by all your might, try not to look for these). It seems this ego has prevailed through much darker times.
The point is, I would have loved a bit of insight – that of which I’d clearly failed to gather myself – as to what I was doing so wildly wrong. What was it, I should have asked, that made me so different from likes of bloggers I followed, such as Jessica Stein and Chiara Ferragni. If only someone had done something so blunt as a PowerPoint presentation to compare my content with theirs. Perhaps I’d be endorsed by Burberry just now.
To give myself and Mallory some credit, we were only 15/16. We also lacked the money for quality photography gear and the status, at our bare age, to be invited to anything too exciting anyway. In the grand scheme of things, we weren’t doing too badly. And hey, at least we were trying.
For I lacked to find a characteristic read at the time, it makes sense to me that I share now, some of the odd tips I’ve gathered since my first NZFW. Any of those looking to join the crowd that gathers inside Viaduct Events Centre, this is for you. Keep in mind, I still don’t know what I’m doing 79% of the time. Things change, the industry changes and so too do the people in it. To expect similarity is like asking for extra tomato sauce. A lot of the time, you’re not going to get it. The only difference here at NZFW, is that the entire chip experience is not disappointing without it. In fact, it’s entirely more exciting.
To understand the basics, here’s a few things you should note.
- Don’t be afraid of overdressing.
If New Zealand is the land of the free, then NZFW is the land of the freedom dressers. Wear what you want. More than attention, you’ll acquire respect. Here, both are important. Shy or inadequate as you may initially feel, it’ll do you best to avoid letting this be known. Dress confidently and you will be more likely to follow suit.
Don’t feel the need to offer consistency either. Unless of course, you want to be remembered for something signature and outlandish, take it day by day. Play with your niche, and all the while, stay true to what you feel good in. The result is inevitable: you’ll be proud of the person, yourself, whom you represent.
2. Introduce yourself. And don’t wait until the third day to do so.
There’s this notion that everyone involved in NZFW is snobby and pretentious. This is both true and absolutely not. There are many just like you too. Fashion week is more than a congregation of Auckland’s most elite; it’s an opportunity to network, to meet like-minded people and to collaborate with such individuals in a myriad of ways. Even the snobby of the lot are aware of this. After all, they’ve got to maintain their social presence to remain so self-righteous, right? So indeed, they have to talk too.
Here’s a tip: chat to as many people as you can on the first day. Media especially tend to be most energetic, open and willing earlier in the week as opposed to later. We haven’t burnt ourselves to the ground yet. Nor have we all established our cliques indefinitely (though yes, this can be an inevitability too).
Be the first to introduce yourself. Don’t be afraid to have no reason as to why you should. Simply start with who you are and follow with a vague reference to the shows or disorganisation or hunger – you’ll fit right in.
3. Invest in quality gear.
Hint: this is not for show. This one is for you and you only. The better your gear, the easier your job. The more familiar you are with using it, even better. If you’re under-confident prior to NZFW, have a play with your camera in a dark setting, with luminous or bright white lighting. You’ll be far more accustomed to adjusting your settings quickly before shows commence.
If you find yourself struggling mid-photography pit, ask someone with a similar modelled Canon or Nikon camera (before the show begins preferably!). People know what they’re doing. And because it’s New Zealand, they’re often willing to help. We all started somewhere. And even now, we’re all working towards different things, at different stages, and for different people. It’s not a competition. Just say the word, and someone is bound to lend a hand.
I’m not even going to begin with making sure your laptop is okay. We all know the mares I’ve had there. I shall say this and this only: make sure it works.
4. Post your blogs, your photos, your grams, and do it fast.
To be fair, we all recurrently struggle with this one. What’s important, however, is not to convince yourself that no one cares. Your blog or website or page may be small, but acting in accordance with such a fact, shall only ensure it remains this size.
So be professional even if only for yourself or for the sake of practice. Fashion Week operates in a funny yet sensical manner. It’s all the craze for its duration, yet two days post it’s conclusion, no one wants to hear about it. I don’t even want to and I’m involved. So get your posts up while it matters, that is, before every facet and angle of every collection, show and experience has already been covered. Help yourself to stay relevant. Work fast and work hard. You’ll be amazed at what you can do. And alone, the reminder is a very valuable thing.
5. Have fun.
Much as there are times when you should choose sleep, there are also times when you really shouldn’t. Fashion week comes just once a year. Better to throw your all into it than come out of it with a half-hearted experience. Go to the after-parties, even if just to assess the vibe. If you’re afraid to go alone, ask someone whether you can tag along (again, if you’ve put yourself out there from day one, this should be easy).
Don’t take yourself too seriously! The best people at NZFW, at least in my eyes, are those whom remain genuine despite the calibre of what they do and who they are. They’re not afraid to look around and laugh at the dramatics of it all. If something was too weird for you, don’t stop yourself from exclaiming it. Many of the shows and the concepts are. People appreciate the truth – often they agree – so discuss your version of it openly. It makes you more interesting. Plus, a fake is easy to decipher here at Fashion Week. They tend to agree with every word you say, and only ever go as far to add a synonym.
Laugh at shit that goes wrong and remember it’s not the end of the world. Everyone’s late. Everyone’s having issues. And everyone is tired as fuck.
That we put ourselves through it yet year after year is worth more than a giggle; it’s worth your enjoyment!
Good luck, and I hope to see you there next year!
Photos: Two Dark Coffees