How I Got Inside the Tents, or How I Hope I Won't Get Denied Next Time Around Because I Wrote This
People are probably wondering how in the world I got past the security checkpoints at Bryant Park last week. While I'd love to say that it was because of the slew of invitations, my killer wardrobe, or my ability to sneak through several layers of security every day, I actually got in the old-fashioned way: through press credentials. I have to say, I was surprised how easily I managed to get access, but apparently, blogging is now an acceptable 'in' for the shows. (Silly me, for not realizing they realized it sooner!)
Certainly, at this point in time, there's no possible way for bloggers to NOT have access to the shows. Maybe not to the extent that Courtorture managed to last season (see the article below). But it's a guarantee that someone in the guest list blogs and will be posting. Obviously, traditional outlets (and publicists) just can't control the flow of information like they used to. Ignore the blogger at your peril.
Sheryl B., a fashion stylist I met at the tents the first night, was kind enough to send me Bloggers in Tents: Fashion Warms to New Media, posted at MediaBistro.com. According to the article, the show organizers decided to officially open up the shows because "these are credible journalists, and if that's the way news is being distributed, then we want to be a part of it." And yes, the 221 official shows were underattended by the "important people" (i.e., buyers, celebrities, traditional media editors), so I guess we were acceptable filler.
Ok, so all this may be true, but they don't officially tell you a few things. Certainly, it's a means of damage control. Woo those bloggers with access and maybe you'll win them over to the merits of your brand (Hey, there's a reason why brands bother with these shows. They're more impressive in person than from a computer, paging through Style.com). It's also a means of officially keeping a sense of exclusivity at these events while maintaining audience membership. Joe Schmo still can't waltz right in through the front door and get a seat (even if half the shows are not so well attended by the invited guests).
As you can see from my pass, it allows lobby access only, not guaranteed entry to the shows. The organizers for each particular label's show control their lists - not the Fashion Week organizers. I certainly wasn't on the show lists. To be fair, my experience is marred by the fact that I signed up last minute, so there wasn't time to invite me even if they wanted to. But I suspect most bloggers who signed up way in advance still didn't get invitations into the show unless they're big. The Sartorialist being a good example. (Scott, did I actually see you in the front row for Anna Sui?) I definitely met quite a few other bloggers, in the waitlist line for each of the shows I attended. What was interesting was that the waitlist also had plenty of invitation holding guests as well. Yup, you read correctly. Even if you RSVP, you still don't get guaranteed anything unless you're important to the designers. You're there to fill in the empty seats if the editor/buyer/celeb doesn't show up. Just like me.
The other thing they don't tell you is that press access isn't free. Anyone wearing one of the dangly passes above paid to play. Depending on when you registered, each pass granted costs $50-$100. And I highly doubt the NY Times and Vogue writers needed to pay (they got invitations to each of the shows). Only the little guys (and gals) like me did. As someone in the press access line ahead of me told me, our registrations got held up because to a certain extent, we don't actually matter to them.
While I'm certainly grateful to get my foot in the tent without a huge hassle (even with the fee), I definitely maintain my skepticism that the sudden inclusiveness is ushering a new era of press democratization. Maybe you'll get an invite next time around if something you say is particularly noteworthy by the designer. But don't forget that even the NY Times can be revoked for a bad review too (and the designers can be likewise publicly punished for doing so). Actually, maybe the waitlist and the standing room aren't so bad. You can't exactly be slapped by an uninvite unless you were allowed at the party in the first place. And after all, I still maintain that the best viewing spots (trumped only by the front row) are actually in the standing room areas.
Or maybe it's because I'm too short to otherwise see.