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For a designer, showing your collection during New York Fashion Week can be a dream come true. But while editors, influencers and fans take in the finished production, marveling at the beautiful looks cascading down the runways, what we don't see are the months of preparation needed to make it all happen. Quite frankly, it might be because the lead up to a fashion show is not always pretty, affordable or easy – it's like the antithesis of the glamour that we most often to see.
Breaking down that facade is exactly why Bach Mai, a New York City based designer and 2023 CFDA award nominee, decided to start tracking his journey on Instagram with a “Road to the Runway” series.
In the first video, starting 32 days out from the show, we see Mai talking to the camera about what's going on before the show. “I'm officially freaking out," he admits in the video. “We basically have no clothes, no fabric, and I also don't know how I'm going to pay for it all.”
According to recent reporting by GQ's Samuel Hine, some designers, including Peter Do and Hilary Taymour of Collina Strada, say that fashion shows can cost anywhere from $300K to $500K at a minimum. It's the reason why so many designers work with sponsors to offset the production. For Mai, who didn't share the exact costs of production, financing is certainly part of the stressful equation.
“People get so excited about showing and runway shows, but the amount of work and the resources it takes to get there, I don't think people really understand,” the designer tells Teen Vogue on the phone after an evening of fittings. He explains that showing his side of fashion week prep is about highlighting all the labor and time – from the fabrication to the sewing to, well, the mistakes – especially for people who may want to work in the industry. "When we were [about] a month out from the show and it just seemed like there was much left to do, it's very stressful. So I thought, you know what? We should share this with people. Because in many cases, this is how it is for many designers."
In one video, two weeks out from the February 9 runway show, we see the designer working in the garment district showing just how last minute some of the final looks are coming together.
Overall though the idea of showing the grittier side of being a high-end fashion designer is to also highlight how fashion is not everything it seems to be, especially from young designers who are trying to be forward thinking. Bach Mai, for example, had the most size diversity of any runway in New York last season. “I think every young designer that I talk to, we're all struggling in different ways to deal with the system," he tells us. "To deal with what is expected of us versus the support that we're getting or versus what we actually are capable of doing.”
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue
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