Fashion week is an event at which designers have a chance to display new lines of clothes, shoes, bags, and other accessories. As the name would suggest, fashion week usually lasts around a week, and it features the latest and greatest of the fashion world. The “Big Four” fashion weeks in Milan, Paris, New York City, and London determine what's in and what's out in the upcoming season, and they attract a great deal of attention and buzz.
At a fashion week, designers hold a series of runway shows in which models display their garments. Often, multiple facilities hold runway shows at the same time, accommodating the large numbers of designers who may be present, and the clothes may be modeled by well-known supermodels or relative unknowns, depending on the designer.
Fashion weeks are held twice a year, once in the spring/summer to showcase fall/winter styles, and once in the fall/winter for spring/summer lines. The long lead time gives buyers enough time to order, and sets the trends for the following seasons. In addition to showing regular lines, designers may also display concept pieces during fashion week, with these garments intending to impress the audience more than showcase a particular style.
This concept originally started as a way to allow designers to promote lines for the upcoming seasons, and fashion week events were primarily attended by buyers for major department stores and retailers. The buyers would get an idea of what was going to be trendy in the coming season by attending fashion week, and they could order products which interested them. Fellow designers would also attend fashion week events to see projects which other designers were working on.
Over time, fashion critics also began attending fashion week, and the events began to draw the attention of the general public. People who follow fashion may attend numerous shows over the course of a fashion week event, and some shows are hot items, with fierce competition to get a foot in the door. Goody bags and other giveaways are also common during fashion week.
The media typically reports on the notable styles from the runway, inspiring lesser designers and alerting the public to upcoming trends. Some people are also interested in the stories about fashion week parties, concerts, and other events which involve celebrities, but not necessarily fashion.
In addition to the Big Four, numerous other cities around the world host regional fashion weeks. These events may feature local designers along with some major houses of fashion, and they are used to promote interest in the region and its local products.