5 Networking Events to Break Into the Fashion Industry

Written by Black Enterpise Magazine
5 Networking Events to Break Into the Fashion Industry uptownmagazine.com

The fashion industry is notorious for its exclusivity, and finding a way to break in may seem like mission impossible. When success is so dependent on who you know and who knows you, networking opportunities are an invaluable resource. While New York Fashion Week may be out of the question for many, there are events available that not only provide the opportunity to network with others in the industry, but also give experts the platform to share the tools necessary to launch successful careers in fashion. Here are five noteworthy conferences and workshops that do just that.

Axis Trade Show

The Axis Trade Show was established by renowned fashion event organizer the Reed Fashion Group to provide a space for “creative individuals and entrepreneurs [to] come together to distill and discuss the trends shaping the fashion landscape.” With an emphasis on women’s brands, the event promotes cross-category merchandising, allowing participants to network and collaborate with other brands and companies that have overlapping markets, specifically within fashion lifestyle, action lifestyle, and home and beauty brands. The brands represented include Timberland, Reebok, OBEY Women’s, Mitchell and Ness Women’s, and Stussy Women. Attending trendsetters and advisers include Nike Global Concept Director Kristen Reiter, athlete Kassia Meador, and Style.com Fashion Market Director Rachel Wang. What makes the Axis trade show particularly unique is that it seeks to promote fashion in conjuncture with music and food, and even health and fitness activities, to present it as part of a collective culture. The event is hosted biannually in New York City in February and September.

The Workshop at Macy’s

Launched in 2011, The Workshop at Macy’s is a retail vendor development program that aims to give high potential minority and women business owners the preparation to succeed in retail. In collaboration with the renowned entrepreneurial school Babson College, the program was created to “foster growth in the next generation of minority and women-owned merchandise suppliers,” with the potential to partner with Macy’s as a vendor for the retail giant. Although the program is extremely competitive, it is free for companies that are chosen to participate. In its four year run, The Workshop has already proven to be successful and has helped to propel the exposure of companies such as LAMIK Beauty, Urban Intimates Lingerie, Alex Woo, The Lip Bar, and Fashion has Heart, whose owner Michael Hyacinthe has been featured on blackenterprise.com. The Workshop is held annually in New York City.

Harlem’s Fashion Row

With the mantra that “it takes a village to raise an artist,” Brandice Henderson created Harlem’s Fashion Row. The Harlem-based fashion event provides a premier platform and community for designers of color to be promoted and celebrated. In an industry where the voices and images of people of color are still marginalized and largely ignored, HFR intends to break barriers by introducing new talent into the industry and honoring the industry veterans that have paved the way. Beyond the Fashion Show and Style Awards, HFR also hosts an Editors Luncheon, a Bloggers Breakfast, and a Fashion and Finance Luncheon, each designed to impart valuable insight into the business of fashion beyond the runway. Featured designers have included Project Runway contestants Kahindo Manteene, creator of Modahnik, and Kimberly Goldson. Panelists have included top industry professionals Corynne Corbett of Essence magazine and fashion designer Sammy B. HFR has recently expanded with the founding of HFR-U, an Ambassador Internship program designed to further Henderson’s overall mission by offering professional guidance and networking opportunities for HBCU students seeking careers in the fashion industry.

Fashionista How to Make It in Fashion Conference

Independent fashion news site Fashionista.com began hosting their biannual How to Make It in Fashion Conference in 2012 to connect those aspiring to a career in fashion with current industry titans, covering a variety of positions in the field. The site is dedicated to presenting stories that focus on the business of fashion, and the conference is intended to be an extension of that goal. What makes the How to Make It Conference most appealing is that in addition to having career-specific panels and keynote speakers, attendees have the opportunity to have one-on-one mentoring sessions with people who have “made it” in their chosen career. Panel discussion topics run the gamut, from advice on how to launch a successful fashion start-up to stylist branding, and even how to break into costume designing for theater, film, and television. The most recent event held in Los Angeles boasted Lubov Azria, Chief Creative Officer of BCBG Max Azria, as a keynote speaker, and Mandi Line, Costume Designer for hit TV show Pretty Little Liars, as a panelist. The conference is held in Los Angeles and New York.

Decoded Fashion Summit

The Decoded Fashion Summit is an innovative conference that focuses on the rapidly advancing cross-section of fashion and technology. The conference was developed as a response to the emergence of wearable tech, such as smart watches, and provides the opportunity for collaboration between the fashion and tech communities. Participants have access to panel discussions on using technology to further their brands and improve the customer experience both digitally and in retail arenas, as well as how designers can integrate technology into their designs. Notable speakers for the event include Alice Kim, Vice President of Merchandising and Retail at DVF, Ryan Genz, the CEO of CuteCiruit, and Billie Whitehouse, the Co-Founder of Wearable Experiments. One of the major highlights of the summit is the Wearables Competition, a pitch competition “looking for the most consumer-friendly and beautified wearable device,” one of which was a handbag that charges your smartphone and lights up to help find interior items created by Jon Lou. The Decoded Fashion Summit is hosted annually in New York, London, and Milan.

Although many popular fashion industry networking events take place in major cities like New York City and Los Angeles, these types of opportunists are not limited to those areas. If funds may be an issue be sure to check for local Fashion Week events in or near your hometown and be sure to utilize social media to reach out to those of whom who are in the specific field you are interested in.

Source: Black Enterprise Magazine 


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