5 Reasons why fashion shows are a waste of time! (for emerging brands)

My dear creatives,

I get it, fashion shows look glamorous. You envision yourself walking down the runway with your model in that final dramatic look, to thunderous applause. You believe that fans will come flocking to you, wallets at the ready to purchase your items.

Well let me throw some cold water on that wet dream right now.

Assuming you’re a massive success and benefit from rave reviews and increased demand, can you handle it?

Chances are you haven’t considered all the factors.

This is why I’m here to ask you the difficult questions and to make you think long and hard about how you organise your business.

Here’s the cold, hard truth about fashion shows:

  1. They’re expensive. They require a large investment of time and MONEY

If you’re a new or even experienced designer and it’s going to cost a pretty penny putting all those looks together. Most of us don’t have an endless supply of money. You have to source fabrics, notions and trims, models, decide on the number of looks you’ll be presenting, and this is all very time, cost and labour intensive, especially if you’re a one-person production team.

  1. The properly planned ones (i.e. where buyers are present) are serious business.

You need to have a plan should there be a dramatic increase in demand after the show. If a buyer approaches you, do you have line sheets, can you give them an overview of your costing, can you suggest or produce a pared-down version of the runway look for retail? What’s your production schedule like? Do you have a plan as to how you’re going to source, produce and distribute your product? Can you adapt your production process and capacity to handle this new influx of orders? What about wholesale orders? If a boutique or other company in Europe ordered hundreds of a particular item, could you source, produce and ship it to them in a timely manner?

  1. Most Caribbean fashion shows are not strategically planned.

It’s purely for entertainment purposes. For a fashion show to work, it must partner with buyers and other influencers who will be matched with brands for any benefit to be derived for any of the parties involved. Furthermore, the domestic and even regional markets are small compared to the international markets. The key to being profitable is to generate sales volume and you can’t do that sustainably by focusing only on individual and retail customers. You don’t have to become a retail giant, but it does help to have your product available in several strategic locations.

  1. It’s actually largely unnecessary in this era of social media and influencer marketing.

The fashion industry is currently under some serious disruption thanks to social media and influencers. Designers and fashion houses no longer have total control over how they roll out their product to the market. One used to have to wait six months to get a product. Now you can have an item in your hands in a matter of weeks. In fact, in response to their consumer analytics (I posted about this recently ), many big brands are pulling out of major fashion week shows and hosting their own events or even rescheduling their production calendar altogether. Check out these cases of  Alexander Wang and A$AP Rocky and how they’ve embraced the industry disruption.

Alexander Wang RTW Fall 2016
Alexander Wang Giovanni Giannoni/WWD


  1. They’re not profitable ventures.

It’s a well-known ‘secret’ that fashion shows are not generally profitable to the designers. They never get a return on their investment.  Most do it to generate buzz and attention. It’s a publicity stunt. Larger design houses and other fashion behemoths have the budget and can afford to put on these kinds of spectacles. You, the independent designer cannot, and it should not be the first thing you consider when trying to promote your brand and generate sales.

There are several other ways to get your brand noticed and generate revenue.

Stay tuned for another blog post on cost effective ways you can promote your brand and generate sales.

Until next time,


Do you agree, disagree? Share your thoughts and comments!

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