We all know the excitement and envy of opening Instagram and being bombarded by Fashion Week posts by our favorite influencers. I know I get caught up thinking about a city where you feel the fashion in the air, what shows I would attend if I went, or what I would wear. Have you ever wondered what it is actually like to attend a fashion week? I never thought I would find out for myself while in college. BUT! The glitzy gates of fashion heaven opened up for me when MTSU gave me the opportunity to be a student volunteer at probably the most beneficial fashion week ever — our very own Nashville Fashion Week! You will never guess how I got the gig to begin with.
☝🏻☝🏻 BTW – I produced this really cool video above! Check it out if you scrolled past it. ☝🏻☝🏻
So, there I am, sitting in my Spring Textiles class taught by Dr. Rick Cottle. He announces, “We are starting up a TXMD Instagram page and we would like for it to be run by a student. Who wants the part?” At this point, I have already had experience coordinating social media at a marketing agency part-time for about a year and a half, and I said to myself, “Ok… this would be a fantastic opportunity and I know I would kill it. BUT, do I have the time to invest in this? Do I want to add more responsibility to my plate? What if I don’t do it right? It would probably be easier to… yea let’s just not.” So, like the overly obsessive person I am, I offered to develop a short social media strategy and give it to the person who would be running the account as a guideline. As you probably could have guessed, I was worried about someone else running my vision of what the account should look like, so I offered to take it over. Wait… why am I telling you this? Because this Instagram endeavor is what brought me the opportunity to attend Nashville Fashion Week (NFW). If I didn’t speak up in class and show my work ethic, creativity, or skills, I may not have gotten the opportunity. Hanging onto connections and standing out in college is everything, and this is true for the fashion industry as a whole as well!
TXMD Instagram Strategy
Dr. Cottle was pleased with my enthusiasm and went on to talk to other MTSU professors and employees about my efforts with the page. His words caught the attention of MTSU’s marketing department, and I was swiftly asked to represent MTSU Marketing & Communications at NFW and given the responsibility of gathering video coverage for the event and creating a recap video. Like…WHAT?! For starters, I have never attended a fashion show or designer event (yes, I know this is a sin if you are a Fashion Merchandising minor, like myself), but I figured I have watched too many Dolce & Gabbana seasonal shows to not know how a runway worked. Furthermore, many students in my classes have not been to a fashion show because they were never given the opportunity to go, so I did feel pretty lucky and grateful that I put myself out there in front of my teachers and had this be a side effect. Secondly, I knew my video would be seen by all of the designers that I dreamed of impressing – no pressure there at all. I look back now and notice that, because I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, I also didn’t know how much it would benefit me later. This is why I am here to tell you to take opportunities offered to you at school, even if they scare you, because you never know where they will lead you.
If you don’t already know, NFW is a big deal for fashionistas all over the country. A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found, “Nashville has the largest concentration of fashion businesses per capita in the United States outside of Los Angeles and New York City.” Over the past 11 years, their performance and show have come back to be more glamorous and professional than the year prior. Connie Cathcart-Richardson, an MTSU alumna, and Marcia Masulla are the creative faces behind the annual event and are just absolutely lovely. I couldn’t help but notice how original and well-crafted all of their marketing was prior to attending. I was especially living for their 2019 statement: “BE BOLD.” Can you believe that this week is completely achieved through volunteers!? Everything is donated, from the makeup artists all the way to the venue. In fact, MTSU’s Media Arts Productions team will be covering the 2020 show through a multi-camera production run by student and faculty volunteers!
Please check out last year’s designers!
Sustainability is a cause that is dear to my heart and is also a priority to NFW. Along with the super cool media pass I got to flaunt around my neck, I was able to attend NFW’s Sustainable Summit and meet its moderator, Fern Mallis. Yeah, I got to hang out with the woman who BEGAN New York Fashion Week.
As a Video and Film Production Major with a double minor in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing, this job ended up being perfect for me. I was literally able to make professional use of all of my concentrations through this one event. Attempting to single-camera an entire runway show for four days is a challenge to the scale of something I had never attempted before. It taught me how-to video for fashion as opposed to TV and films. I had to consider aesthetics, movement, angles, and organic effects. I wanted this video to be fun and reflect the genuine voice of the event. I gained Fashion Merchandising experience through being front row to the latest trends and meeting upcoming designers. And, I applied Marketing to the purpose of the video delivery and publishing it for promotional purposes. I felt professional-ish, and it confirmed that I do love the college path I chose when I was put to the test in a real-life setting.
My top 3 favorite collections were:
Model walking the runway at Nashville Fashion Week 2019 representing designer Laura Citron. Photo by John Hillin.
Any Old Iron by Andrew Clancey
Through the 5-day journey, I built better relationships with my TXMD professors and formed new friendships with motivated students from colleges in and around Tennessee who were also there to volunteer. It was so much fun being there to network with numerous industry professionals, having conversations that I didn’t know I would get the chance to have in college. It was also an honor to be able to say that I gained all of this experience from MTSU and was able to talk about my college career and dreams to those who understand my passions.
I think one of the best aspects of any “Fashion Week” is that you get to view the latest of contrasting branches of fashion together as one beautiful network and get to use that influence while moving forward with your personal fashion vision. Nashville Fashion Week left me fabulously inspired – from having a front-row seat to the new fashion trends and styles, all the way to the success I saw within the designers and attendees, and, most importantly, by seeing my hometown of Nashville, Tennessee continues to establish itself as a leading city in the fashion industry.
Author Margaret Mahaffey is Video & Film Production major with a double minor in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing. The opinions expressed in this article are strictly her own.