7 Things I am Learning at New York Fashion Week

by Larry Chiang on December 13, 2009

Larry Chiang gets access to great pockets of knowledge. If you liked “10 Things They Don’t Teach You at Business School “,  and How to Work a Cocktail Party“, you’ll like his newest submission: “7 Things I Am Learning at Fashion Week“.
By Larry Chiang

New York Fashion Week is under the tents in Bryant Park. It showcases new trends, marries up celebs to photographers and is all-in-all a good time.

Here are seven things I learned here at NYFW that you can’t learn in b-school.

-1- It Doesn’t Pay to Design, It Pays to Promote.

The silver bullet design that everyone loves is a myth. Nothing is ever so cool and must-have that it promotes itself. Do what top designers have done to rise; cut and paste someone else’s work by varying it slightly but promoting the shitake out of the “new” design. Read how I cut and paste and then promote the bejezers out of it here and here.

-2- Stumble Toward Success.

Every billionaire I have met and observed during hardship actually thrives when their plan A falls through. Having a Plan B ensures success. I’m hosting a panel about working a plan B at SXSW and blogged about it here at Business Week.

Success is more about hardship adaptation, stumbling through barriers and being OK with plan B. It’s why short ugly guys take so many big swings for home runs and why tall, good looking, ex-model, Asian men peek in high school at Naperville Central.


My mentor, Mark McCormack, would’ve loved NYFW. He started IMG, has dozen of models here and wrote the book, “What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School“.

-3- Waitlisting Ahead.

How do you backfire forward?! Ahh a mysterious case study never addressed in the hallowed halls of b-school. A waitlist in academia is a nightmare. At NYFW (& in business) working the waitlist is critical. Learning to love the waitlist is genius.

Granularly, you approach it from a second supplier standpoint. A second supplier waits for the primary vendor to fail and embraces their waitlist status and waitlists ahead.

-4- Paper Invites

It may kill trees, but paper is substantive. Getting a paper invite to Barbie Fashion Show can even make a hetero dude who wears pleated khaki cream a little.

-5- Fashion shows are won and lost BEFORE the models take the catwalk.

NYFW is essentially an industry conference with really really good looking people (no shitake Larry?!). Similar to my tips in how to work BlogWorld Expo to inflate your blogger status, people win or lose industry conferences BEFORE the 1st model cascades down. I break down how to hack a conference here.

-6- Good Looks on a man is useless like fur on a pussywillow.

The top male model at NYFW doesn’t clear $30k modeling. The top female model makes seven figures. True story. Good looks on a man does not move product off the rack or create buzz as well.

-7- Women Who Are Beautiful and Smart Confuse.

My in-the-field in-depth research turned up five prime examples of beautiful women who are smart and hot that they confuse people:
– To-Nya of www.sachika.com
– Tiffany Chang of ModernGlossy
– Janis Isaman with Fashion Week Daily
– Shallom Johnson of Style Finds
and the lovely,
– Terri Potratz of The Conveyor Belt

Jessica Simpson was in NYC until the Wed before NYFW. She is genius, witty and able to character compass almost as well as me. She meteorically rose because people are comfortable with her dumb blonde, chicken-of-the-sea persona. Hiding any sign of genius is well, genius.

-8- Your Show’s Been Hooker Hijacked

Lets say you micro-manage your show’s front row guest list but somehow a call-girl that brought down a NY governor wrangles herself in at seat F2… it is not time for a yard sale (ie firing staff and support). But it IS time for plan B.

-9- Align with a Better Brand.

Who wants to hear from a tier two blogger that doubles as a CEO banging the drum of FICO credit education named Larry Chiang?! No one. But the guy who hangs out with Tyrese and Chamillionaire is a guy I wanna get to know better. Tweet this post

If you liked this, you may also check:

9 Things They Don’t Teach You at Stanford Business School

9 More Things They Don’t Teach (GigaOm.com)

How to Work a Cocktail Party


Larry’s book release 09-09-09

Larry Chiang is the founder of Duck9, which educates college students on how to establish and maintain a FICO score over 750. He has testified before Congress and World Bank on credit.

He is a frequent contributor to Business Week’s blog on “What They Don’t Teach You at Business School“. For fun, Larry blogs, attends tech conferences and hoops it up at Arrillaga Center for Sports Recreation. Text or call him during office hours 11:11am or 11:11pm PST +/-15 minutes at 650-283-8008

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