RUNWAY BIZ: Often, towards the end of the year, a number of notable fashion shows are held in the country. In December alone, there will be the Abryanz Style and Fashion Awards (ASFAs), the Plus Size Fashion Week Fest, among others. Esther Oluka highlights some of the immense opportunities, including learning experiences to grab during the season.
The year 2019 is almost drawing to a close. And usually whenever a year is ending, there are a number of events organised on the social science and Uganda’s fashion scene is not left out on the fun. Every year, around this time until the very last day, a number of fashion shows are organised by different players in the industry. For instance the Abryanz Style and Fashion Awards (ASFAs) that happen every December, the Pearl of Africa Fashion Awards (PAFA) which we are not certain about this year since there have been hardly any announcements and the Plus Size Fashion Week Fest.
Besides the fashion shows are runway events organized by designers to show their respective collections.
But here is the thing, although most people tend to think that fashion shows are just about the models and designers, well, you thought wrong. Fashion shows are bigger than the models and designers. There are a team of professionals involved in making these shows a success. Although the majority are paid, there are intern students as well as volunteers. Regardless of the role one plays before and during the show, there are immense opportunities in Uganda’s fashion seasons not only to work but also learn and network. Here are some of the opportunities that can become a huge turning point in either your life or career.
How about being a model…
A fashion show is never complete without the models. And, if you get picked to walk for any show, you will certainly get paid. But what you may not know is that getting selected to walk for a fashion show does not come that easy. The organisers do not just wake up one morning and call you to walk for the show.
The model selection process starts after the organisers have made a casting call – an announcement calling out interested models to attend castings on a selected day. A casting is an interview process for models, where they present themselves before designers and casting directors.
During these castings, the models will be judged on how they walk, look and present themselves before the team. So, sometimes if you do not have a particular look that a designer wants, you may not get booked to walk for the show. If you also have a terrible catwalk, you will not be selected to walk for the show. And it does not matter if you are tall, slender and having great bone structure.
If your catwalk is terrible, most times you will not be selected to walk for the show. That is why you find that sometimes short or medium height models are selected to walk for a particular fashion show. Why? Because they have a great catwalk. So, how can you ensure that you stand out and get selected to walk for a fashion show?
Emmanuel Bagwana of Eguana Fashion House says it is important that models do adequate research of the show before going for a casting.
“Search about the show, what to wear when going for a casting, prepare a great composite (comp) card, keep practicing on your walk so that by the time you go for the casting, you are confident and ready,” Bagwana says.
A comp card, which usually has crucial details about the individual, including a few professional pictures, name, age and body measurements. It is always important that a model carries one for a casting in order to increase their chances of getting booked to walk for a fashion show.
Showcase your designs
There is a new breed of designers emerging lately. And, if you want to showcase some of your collection, what better way to do it than at a fashion show. Normally the fashion organisers make announcements urging designers who are interested in showcasing to send in their designer applications. So, you just need to be on the lookout for the announcements which are mostly placed on different social media platforms.
If eventually you get booked as a designer, there are opportunities for you to showcase your work for a larger audience. However, it comes with a cost. One upcoming designer I interviewed but requested anonymity, says he had to part with Shs3m to showcase his collection at one of the previous fashion events.
Internship and volunteering
Any successful person today will tell you that they started right from the bottom before making it to the top. Some of these successful individuals will tell you that their respective careers kicked off after enrolling for internship and volunteering programmes.
One notable example is Joram Job Muzira, a renowned model scout, casting director and beauty pageant trainer. He may be one of the biggest names in the fashion industry today, but, what many people may not know is that Muzira previously did a number of small gigs (including being a waiter) to get to where he is today.
“I would volunteer backstage during fashion shows, help designers dress models, guide the models on what to do as well as run different errands for anyone,” Muzira says, adding, “Sometimes I was not even getting paid. But, I am happy that in the end, I acquired skills and wider knowledge on how the industry operates.”
At some point, Muzira says he tried a stint at becoming a male model, but that career path did not flourish, according to plan. He, however, remained passionate about the industry and in the end, opened up his own modelling agency.
In this industry, fashion organisers often ask for volunteers by making announcements. But even if these calls are not made, you can take the initiative by personally approaching the organisers and designers for a few opportunities. For example, if you are a fashion student, you may write to the organisers requesting to be an internship student during the fashion season. If you do not receive feedback, look for the organisers and talk to them directly.
Writing & photography
One of the most interesting aspects about the fashion season is the glitz and glamour. And if you are the kind of person who loves documentary, photography, filming and writing, there are immense opportunities for you to take in all this glamour.
For instance, photographers have a field day just taking pictures during these events. And they earn money because some of them work for different media houses, some are bloggers while others are contracted by different clients, including designers. But usually, the photographers, writers, documentary and film makers have to be accredited by the event organisers.
So, not just anyone is allowed to be part of the media team, otherwise the entire event would turn into a circus. But, let’s say you are interested in taking pictures and have not been accredited by the organisers, you can purchase a ticket for the show and either take the pictures or do the filming from the comfort of your seat.
There is room to learn a lot from beauty service providers
Usually, renowned fashion shows are known for hiring professional make-up artists and hair dressers to work on models. And, during these fashion events, these professionals start working on the models from morning until late in the evening when the shows begins.
But the thing I noticed about some of these professionals is that they are always willing to share beauty routines.
For instance, you will find a make-up artist advising a model on basic things such as how to shape a great eyebrow or what make-up to apply for a particular skin tone. It is no wonder that some of these models eventually learn how to do their own make-up because they have been taking notes along the way.
Personal assistant ops
It takes a village to pull off a great fashion show. Besides models and designers, you will find casting directors, choreographers, front and backstage managers, lighting and sound crew members, among other professionals. Many times, some of these individuals need help to execute their required tasks.
So, you just may as well request to be one’s personal assistant. You may, for instance, offer to be a designer’s personal assistant executing roles such as carrying outfits that the models will wear for the show, helping dress the models, among other designated responsibilities. But this means that you have to create rapport with these professionals way before the fashion shows are held, meaning that you have to approach them beforehand.
One of the reasons guests attend fashion shows is to network with different players in the industry. So, if you are thinking of one day venturing into the fashion business, then, you must attend these fashion shows. There are a number of people you could meet who could turn your life or career around.
By the way, in case you did not know, some of today’s big names in fashion have successful careers because of the networking opportunities they utilised during fashion shows. So, regardless of how expensive that fashion show ticket may be, just close one eye and buy it.