Volunteering to work fashion week is a whirlwind of emotion starting with frustration and topped off with mesmerizing excitement. Pretentious socialites with a little liquor in them don’t seem worth the six hour shift with no pay. Even so, once the lights dim and florescent color lighting encompasses the tent it is easy to forget the rudeness of however many people.
As a volunteer working in the main tent, my job was to let the right people in and get them to their seats. It should have been as simple as it sounds. However, people who see themselves as too successful to listen to a volunteer make this job difficult. Swarms of individuals without the correct wrist bands attempt to sneak past and do not hesitate to make a scene when asked to get the correct color. After a while it all becomes funny. People seem to think everyone knows who they are when in reality, it seems only a select few do.
Five days, five six hour shifts. With constant stimulation through blinding lights and displays of the latest trends, a volunteer’s experience is one of a kind. Luckily, we get to experience the 600 to 1,000-dollar full week experience for free. All in all, volunteering for Charleston Fashion Week is worth it. The all access pass to every area of the show is worth the only downside: a few snotty people who ultimately end up making good stories. And on top of that, the runway pictures and extra access will boost any Instagram feed.
Charleston Fashion Week is a pretty big deal. Celebrities, designers, and models from around the area and the country come to watch a showcase of different brands strut the runway. After an application and interview process, I, along with many others, were selected as volunteers for the event. After a rainy and extremely brief orientation, I felt a little nervous and underprepared going into the event. Nonetheless, I came to my first shift with an open mind and a productive mindset. Then I waited for two hours. Okay; maybe a little more casual than I thought.
I was placed in the main tent for all three of my shifts during the show. I mostly worked as the “media bouncer,” but also made sure that no stole the gifts provided to the front row occupants by the show. So security. I worked security. Being one of two tall male volunteers, it made sense. I was content with my job, considering I didn’t have too much work to do after all. When working as “media bouncer,” my job was to ensure that the photographers and attendees did not cross the red ropes that blocked the media from the crowd. This may sound hectic in theory, but it ended up consisting of me standing around and watching the show from one of the best seats (or stands?) in the house.
The music was bumping, lights perfectly coordinated, and announcers mic’d up. The professionalism of the show was surprisingly refreshing. Different tents contained different set-ups, whether they be bars with overpriced drinks or VIP’s. We snuck into the latter only to be kicked out seconds later.
I was also given the opportunity to see up close and personal the models’ outfits that were shown off in the show. I must say, I was more enthralled with the models, who were people of all types of complexions that were insanely attractive in their own right. Also, working with the front row allowed me to interact with some of Charleston’s local celebrities, including two guys from Southern Charm (Shep and Thomas? Don’t kill me, I do not watch it) and Mike from American Pickers (that one show your grandfather probably loves).
Unfortunately, I was not able to meet many of the models, but through my experience I was able to enjoy the company of the other volunteers, who I still maintain relationships with. Coming into my time at Charleston Fashion Week, I expected a work-heavy schedule with little networking and more dealing with snobby rich people. However, coming out of it, I look back on my time there wishing I had volunteered more. The view of the show, friendships created, and laid-back, independent atmosphere made it an enjoyable experience that I will hopefully be taking part in next year as well!