New York Saturdays: Volunteering at NYFW

The anticipation and excitement surrounding New York Fashion Week is something you can feel in the air as you walk down the city’s streets. Oftentimes, it can feel a little discouraging to know that special events are taking place all around Manhattan but not having any way to attend. That being said, where there’s a will, there’s a way, even for the ever exclusive NYFW. Because the shows are either invite-only or for those who splurged on a ticket package, finding your way in through interning or volunteering gigs is your best bet.


How I did it: 

Familiarize yourself with the fashion calendar in order to know when to apply. For the February shows, late January is the ideal time to send in resumes. Keep your eye on job boards where companies can post opportunities, that’s where the smaller, local jobs can be found. Notably, don’t be afraid to apply last minute. All the finishing details of organizing a show are finalized right up until the official start of fashion week, I heard back on a Tuesday for an event on Saturday, so make room for fashion and keep your calendar clear. 


After confirming my availability and receiving an invitation to help at this year’s Custo Barcelona show, I prepped for the event by laying out an all black outfit as is the usual requirement for working fashion shows and on the day of, headed to the lower east side location feeling polished and professional. 


Depending on who you're working for, there are different tasks involved in the set up of a major runway show. Because I was volunteering with a public relations company, I assisted with front of house check-in, seating, and backstage coordination. With most of the audience being well-known socialites, the art of strategic placement is everything and each seat had to be carefully labeled according to the predetermined seating chart. 


But my main point of interest was the list everyone wants to be on, RSVP. As photographers, journalists, and guests began to fill the venue, I felt important highlighting their name off the official run of who's allowed backstage, on the risers, and in the rows, and couldn't believe how many people were lined up outside. I got a little nosy studying the names of invited guests, some of which I recognized, and the notes that said where magazine reporters were from. 

As a fashion and journalism student, this task was made for me.  


After hours of running around ensuring preparations were made and making sure everyone sat in the right spot, I squeezed myself into the balcony viewing area to watch the show, which doesn't always happen, especially if you are working backstage. Another major perk- the show offered a Skybox decorated in pastel decor and stocked with complimentary sips for hanging out post-runway. 


For someone who’s not easily overwhelmed in this kind of fast-paced, exciting environment, I enjoyed myself as much as possible. Some elements of the day were so stereotypical New York it felt like I was playing a character. And even if you don’t do much at whatever show you participate in, just getting to be a part of it is enough-  imagine telling your younger self that you were at New York Fashion Week! All in all, any little thing you can do to take advantage of living in the city will help both your career and confidence and although returning to my dorm afterward was a “back to reality” moment, it only made the experience feel more special.