London Fashion Week events are famed for their glamour and broad appeal. While the world’s eyes are focused on England’s capital, any event taking place around the same time as the showcase can benefit from the extra attention and allure. That’s why lots of LFW events are all about fashion, but many others aren’t. Retailers, student organisations, charities, and more all use the spotlight to bring awareness to their own London Fashion Week events.

Planning to host your own event? We’ve interviewed industry experts and researched some of the most successful LFW functions to offer you inspiration and practical advice. Read on to find out more.

Hosting a fashion show

The most obvious opportunity for organisers during LFW is to host a fashion show. Designers and brands can spring to prominence at a time when influencers, celebrities, and the world’s media are all competing to discover the next big thing.

With a large, international, and curious audience already engaged with fashion events, any shows that can capture the imagination between runway events have the potential to draw a significant – and highly-targeted – crowd.

With all of the drama and dynamism of fashion week, it’s particularly important for organisers not to lose sight of the basics. If you’re a designer or working for one, you’ll already know everything you need to know about the type of fashion you’ll be showcasing. But brands looking to team up with other designers should make sure that their messaging and brand values are aligned before planning a combined showcase event. If you’re still learning about how to put on fashion events, you may need an expert to help with all the planning required. Stylists and creative directors really come to the fore in these situations. They can make sure your theme is relevant and on-trend, that your respective brand messages don’t conflict, and bring together industry professionals who’ll be essential to your event running smoothly.

If you’re an organisation that promotes talented designers and similar creatives, you’ll find plenty of inspiration at the Graduate Fashion Foundation. Every year, they present Graduate Fashion Week at the same time as London Fashion Week to showcase the world’s largest collection of graduate (BA) level fashion designers. Crucially, their event brings talent, media, and recruiters together to ensure an engaging and rewarding environment for all attendees.

Fashion retail events

London Fashion Week events are all about new trends hitting the runway. But that’s only half the story. Every year, designers showcase new styles before they hit the shelves. Given that there’s often a delay between LFW and the official release of new designs, there’s a huge opportunity for retail event organisers to capitalise on a highly engaged, impatient, aspirational audience.

Here are just a few ideas for tapping into that market:

Holding a London Fashion Week pop-up shop

Pop-ups are a savvy way for event organisers to piggyback on the popularity of a bigger cultural occasion. Creators of fashion retail events can maximise the association between particular brands and LFW as a whole by staging a pop-up during fashion week.

The big question for event organisers in fashion retail is often the same as that facing the world’s biggest designers: Is it more valuable to tease a collection before its release to create a brand buzz, or should you go straight for a pop-up shop?

As ever, only you will know what’s right for your organisation. For those who prefer to start selling to a captive audience during LFW, however, there are a lot of planning points worth considering in advance. What marketing have you done ahead of LFW to ensure that your pop-up shop will be packed throughout the week? Have you factored in all the relevant costs of hiring a suitable venue during such a busy time of year? Have you made sure that the brands you’ve selected for your pop-up reflect the major themes and styles for the new season?

If you can answer all of those questions, you could be ready to launch your pop-up shop. Even so, it might still be a good idea to seek out some experts to help with all the key logistics.

Creating a London Fashion Week partnership event

If you’re thinking about bringing in outside expertise, you might consider teaming up with another brand for a partnership event. London Fashion Week events often have two or more partners collaborating on a compatible, non-competitive basis to ensure mutual success.

Partnerships can also make for unique opportunities that resonate with the spirit of a one-off event. For instance, fashion shows frequently host hair styling and/or make-up demonstrations alongside catwalks to help aspirational attendees visualise their new look. For fashion businesses, a collaboration with another designer might spawn a whole new collection of garments and/or accessories. The Store by Ida set up a good example of this recently when the fashion resale platform collaborated with contemporary artist Kimi Zoet for “an evening of unusual storytelling”. It featured some of the artist’s characters styled in items taken from Ida’s wardrobe.

Even brands with no obvious connection to fashion can benefit from a creative collaboration in the context of London Fashion Week events. Cafés, for example, can emphasise their relationship with the creative community by partnering with designers for custom coffee cups or special merchandise.

Planning an immersive fashion event through storytelling

Storytelling can bring products to life and help audiences experience the influences behind collections or designs. While runway shows are the typical way to show new styles at LFW, more and more businesses are developing an immersive approach to bring potential buyers into their brand narrative.

Event organisers The Eclectives used this approach for their fashion show, The Craft After 8: Immersive Sound Escape & Networking. With designers on display who evoke the ideals of wellness, community and togetherness, they set about designing an event that would not only showcase the story they wanted to convey, but also bring the audience into the narrative experience. As co-founder Isabella Faye says, “The Craft After 8… took place before Halloween so [it had] a witchcraft theme, going from old-fashioned designs to modern, all outsourced from independent designers. After COVID-19, our group saw how important it was to get people interacting with each other, themselves and creativity… [So,] by including more than just fashion, we’re able to bring a wide variety of creatives together, to celebrate and showcase their talents.”

Isabella also offers advice for anyone looking to launch immersive London Fashion Week events, when she says: “Our community is what inspires our events, so stop listening to tradition and start listening to those around you. Think outside of the box and explore new ways of celebrating creativity.”

Hosting a vintage fashion event

Themed fashion events also help to create a sense of participation and immersion among audiences. Vintage shows are by definition thematic, but there are lots of ways to encourage your guests to embrace the spirit of the event beyond simple attendance. Swap shops are a popular component of vintage fairs, as are live models, who can bring an old-fashioned style to life.

Focusing on a particular theme or decade within the context of a vintage fair can focus the minds of purchase-oriented attendees. Frock Me!, London’s original vintage fair, offers vintage styles from many eras, but makes a point of emphasising that their events are “the perfect place to find 1920s fashion.”

Adopting trade practices or anything unfamiliar to the typical high street shopper can also provide an edge with bargain-conscious guests. We are., another vintage pop-up, uses an unconventional approach to pricing, offering second-hand clothes by the weight rather than by the item.

Planning your event during London Fashion Week

Once you’ve decided which elements to incorporate into your LFW event, you’ll be ready to start preparing in detail. To ensure your event is a success, it’s critical to have all the logistical elements organised in advance before you get ready to launch.

With that in mind, let’s look at some of the key questions that creators need to ask themselves before unveiling their London Fashion Week events:

Theme

Make sure your event’s theme corresponds to the product or experience you have on offer. A street-style event will have a very different theme to an haute couture showcase, and you need to plan accordingly to best reflect that distinction. Couturiers DUMEBI demonstrate this by marketing their shows as “soirées” that feature cocktails and live entertainment. This allows them to display their creations in an appropriately upmarket setting.

Location

Keep your audience and theme in mind when deciding your event’s location. London’s Lone Design Club stresses its sartorial credentials by hosting its events “…at the heart of Knightsbridge, just a minute’s walk from Harrods.” With a venue so close to one of London’s best-known couture retailers, they can position themselves as credible, upmarket fashionistas and cater to the area’s wealthy, international crowd.

Timing

Knowing when to stage your event is just as important as planning your entertainment. An event that incorporates networking might work well as a working lunch during the week, whereas a showcase event featuring music and dancing will almost always be better as a weekend occasion – most likely in the evening. Designer Mark Johnson hosts his fashion show, The Beauty of Africa, on a Saturday evening at a specific time. The weekend slot works best for the performance elements of his show – music and poetry – and the specific start time ensures everything runs smoothly.

Context

Schedules are everything when it comes to London Fashion Week events. International visitors will have busy diaries during the week itself, so you’ll need to plan around significant shows. Fashion week afterparties are common after major runway events, so if you’re organising a party in collaboration with a drinks partner and/or a musical component, this might be a good option for you.

Take your event to LFW

Ready to launch your London Fashion Week event? Take the stress out of ticketing by signing up to host it with Eventbrite. To make sure your LFW event stands out from the rest, consider marketing it with Boost’s promotional tools.

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