As the SS16 shows finish, the internet is awash with street style photographs and images from the front row, often abbreviated as the ‘FROW’ for those fashion savvy students.
The difference between the two is very distinct though. Whilst street style photographers often capture bloggers and off-duty models looking effortlessly chic, the FROW is an entirely different realm of the fashion industry.
For, not only do designers need to accommodate the press, magazine editors and buyers, but also celebrities and bloggers whom often attract just as much attention as the clothes. With so many egos bustling for a seat on the FROW it is not a surprise that show producers and PR teams are glad to see the back of fashion week for six months; hugging their iPads they spend weeks plotting, and replotting again and again, seating plans to accommodate hundreds of fashion devotees.
Growing in theatrics every year, brands often spend millions on the production of a show, from invitations to goody bags, and live performances to artistic installations, designers need to be assured that every person in the audience is offering something in return, whether that be in sales or in press coverage.
But what better way for professionals to network with other industry insiders than on the FROW. Surrounded by other influential men and women there is a great deal of intelligence gathering that, subsequently, means some insiders simply won’t accept anything other than a seat on the front row.
However, one thing show producers can’t prepare for is the celebrities who turn up unannounced, with just an entourage of friends in tow too. In those cases it’s up to the team to magically conjure a seat for them, asking people to scoot along and squeeze up.
Fortunately, such compact seating arrangements provide valuable networking opportunities and a chance to showcase highly thought through outfits to identify yourself as a fashion innovator; something that comes with a whole other book of unwritten rules. For, the closer a person sits to the front, the more expensive they outfit typically gets. But that isn’t to say the outfit has actually been bought, rather outfits are often borrowed from the presenting designer for the sole purpose of wearing it to face the FROW; a worthwhile exchange when you consider that a photograph of an it-girl wearing an item can cause it so sell out immediately and produce year-long waiting lists.
Just as FROW outfits are given much attention, so too are there accessories or lack thereof which appears to indicate your level of importance. When was the last time you saw Anna Wintour weighed down with a satchel, laptop and iPad? The answer is never, she is all too important to carry her own, the driver can handle that.
Luckily the politics of the FROW can work in your favour too, with a little luck an editor might be stuck in traffic or hit by bad weather, in which case those behind them are invited to move forwards because, at the end of the day, nothing is worse than an empty seat on the FROW.