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Published: 2024-03-07

The biggest fashion shows in the world

The world's biggest fashion shows are glamorous events that set the pace for the global fashion industry and set the direction for future trends. Held in the world's fashion capitals, they attract designers, models, fashion critics, celebrities and fashion enthusiasts from around the globe.

Among the most important are the "Big 4" fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris, each with its own history, culture and fashion focus.These events provide a stage for established fashion houses and up-and-coming talents to showcase their latest collections. However, in addition to the four major fashion shows, there are other important events that focus on specific niches such as sustainable fashion, streetwear or plus-size fashion. Together, these shows form a broad spectrum of creative expression that reflects the dynamism, diversity and constant evolution of the fashion industry.

The Big 4 in fashion weeks

Fashion weeks are an annual event that keeps the fashion world on its toes. This is where the trends for the coming season are set. Over the course of a month, the "Big 4" - New York, London, Milan and Paris - present their latest collections on consecutive weeks.

The host cities of the "Big 4" fashion shows play a central role in the identity and success of these world-renowned fashion weeks. They attract designers, models, press and fashion enthusiasts from around the world and provide a platform for established brands and emerging talent. The Fashion Weeks take place twice a year, once in February/March for the Fall/Winter collections and once in September/October for the Spring/Summer collections. Each year, they set the direction of the fashion industry for the coming year.

New York Fashion Week

NYFW is the prelude to Fashion Week and is traditionally held in September and February. Originally launched in 1943 as "Press Week", it was the first of its kind to bring American fashion to the international stage. Today, it is one of the most important platforms for U.S. fashion, showcasing both commercial and avant-garde styles.

London Fashion Week

LFW has been held just after New York since 1984. It is known for its creative and innovative fashion, which includes both traditional British fashion and avant-garde designs. Held in February and September, LFW reflects the dynamism and diversity of the British fashion industry.

Milan Fashion Week

MFW, whose roots date back to the 1950s, is the third of the Fashion Weeks. It also takes place twice a year, in February/March and September/October, and is famous for its luxurious and high-quality collections. Milan is the heart of Italian fashion.

Paris Fashion Week

The Fashion Weeks conclude with the PFW, which has existed since the beginning of the 20th century and is considered the most prestigious. Held in March and October, it is the culmination of the fashion weeks, where the biggest names in fashion, from established haute couture houses to innovative ready-to-wear designers, present their collections. Paris remains the undisputed fashion capital.

The Big 4 Fashion Weeks are organized by the leading fashion associations and organizations in each city. They are responsible for the planning, coordination and execution of the events, including the selection of venues, coordination of show schedules and press accreditation.

Here are the main organizers of the individual Big 4 Fashion Weeks:

Each of these organizations plays a vital role in supporting and developing the fashion industry in their country. In addition, fashion weeks are not only a showcase for the latest fashion trends, but also an important economic and cultural event that shapes and influences the fashion industry worldwide.

Economic impact of the Big 4 Fashion Weeks

The "Big 4" Fashion Weeks in New York, Paris, Milan, and London are not only highlights of the international fashion calendar, they are also important economic events with a far-reaching impact on their host cities. Each year, fashion weeks attract thousands of visitors, including designers, models, buyers, press and fashion enthusiasts, who provide a significant economic boost to the local economy. From hospitality to transportation to retail, the direct and indirect spending of attendees generates millions of euros/dollars and supports a wide range of industries.

In addition, the events contribute to the global positioning of the cities as fashion capitals, promote tourism and strengthen the image of the host cities as centers of creativity and design. The economic impact of the Big 4 Fashion Weeks therefore goes beyond immediate revenues and includes long-term investments in local infrastructure, the promotion of small and medium sized enterprises, and the strengthening of the global competitiveness of the fashion industry in these metropolitan areas.

How much does a fashion show cost?

The costs of a fashion show are considerable and are made up of several items. The most important items are the set, the sound, the lighting, and the models' salaries. The set, which is crucial to the creative staging and atmosphere of the show, can account for a significant portion of the total cost, especially if custom elements or elaborate constructions are required.

The sound technology, which includes not only the background music but also the entire acoustic presentation, and the lighting, which is crucial for the visual effect, also require special technology and expertise, which also drives up the costs. Then there are the models' fees, which can vary greatly depending on the level of fame and the number of models. These main elements form the backbone of the production costs of a fashion show and determine the total expenditure, which can range from a few tens of thousands to several million dollars, depending on the size and exclusivity of the event.

In general, however, the cost of a typical fashion show ranges from $125,000 to $312,000. With an average duration of 10 to 15 minutes per fashion show, one minute of fashion show costs between $8,333 and $31,200.

First fashion show

In the late 19th century, English designer Charles Frederick Worth revolutionized the fashion industry in Paris by being the first to present his designs on live models instead of mannequins. This innovation by Worth, the "father of haute couture," led to the first organized fashion shows for the Parisian elite. Initially known as fashion parades, these presentations established the tradition of the modern fashion show.

In the early years, these exclusive salons were private, social events where only invited guests were admitted and the models were often acquaintances or employed sales assistants of the designer. The atmosphere was intimate and personal, with an emphasis on luxury and exclusivity. This new form of presentation could last three to four hours, so refreshments such as tea, coffee, and pastries were often served to keep guests refreshed.

Not all fashion shows are created equal

Haute couture, ready-to-wear, plus-size, streetwear and sustainable fashion shows represent different segments of the fashion industry, each with its own target audience, design philosophy and presentation.

Haute Couture


Plus-size fashion shows

Streetwear fashion shows

Sustainable fashion shows