Tips for Volunteering at Fashion Week

My first Toronto Fashion Week experience concluded a few weeks ago and it went successful for the most part but I ask myself "What could I have done better?" Hit me on the comment box or twitter if you've volunteered yourself but for everyone who wants to know about what to expect volunteering at Toronto Fashion Week here are my tips on how to maximize your experience volunteering for Toronto Fashion Week!

1. Make friends. I came in with no connections to the industry but I left with newfound friends. I met great volunteers who have the same interests as me so it's great to get advice from their own experience careerwise plus they are great people in general. Talk to guests as well. I know its intimidating and nobody likes to be rejected but you have to put yourself out there. You never know who you're going to meet and fashion week attracts notable people. It's better to get yourself acquainted with people who will be around you for the whole week versus keeping to yourself. You might as well have fun, right?

2. Network. Chit chat is good but cease the opportunity too. Many volunteers were just staying quiet while surrounded by industry people. Talk to them! It's part of your job. Especially if you're manning the shows or working at the lobby. Ask them which shows they're seeing, how there week is so far and it doesn't hurt to compliment their outfit. You can ask them why they're here, what company they work for, and what they do. It's important that you know what you want to get out of this experience which brings me to my next point:

3. Bring a business card. Sure the experience is beneficial itself but milk the experience as much as possible. Remember you're not getting paid so reap all the benefits you possibly could. Are you here looking got a job? Are you a budding photographer, blogger, or designer? Or maybe you don't have anything to promote so promote yourself! Introduce yourself and what you're interests are so when somebody actually asks you why you're volunteering you can say more than just 'I don't know, I love fashion?" This way industry people will have you on there radar and have a way of staying in touch which is already half the battle.

4. Do a bit of everything. As a volunteer you are privileged to have all access of the venue so take advantage! You get to run around and see all parts of the venues. Steam clothes. Dress models. Make gift bags. Man the show. Hand out magazines. Greet guests. There's a lot to do and there's something for everyone so find something you love. Who knows maybe you'll find you're calling. Make sure you try as much as possible, don't mope around and don't waste time sitting down doing nothing. You can do that at home.

5. Have a love for fashion. When I went to the orientation there were 300-500 people and by the end of the week we were scrambling to find volunteers. Don't come if you are afraid of getting dirty and doing some manual labour. Fashion isn't always glamorous and like someone said 'The most dressed are usually the ones who does the least amount of work'. Remember this is work and you're not here to dress to the nines. This is a crash course glimpse to fashion.

6. Bring food. This year all they had was Kelloggs cereal and bars for the whole week. Trust me, working eight hour shifts with no food to eat will make you go bananas. Apparently last year they had no food at all. I took some staff food we weren't suppose to have but really they should be taking care of us in that department anyway. Also, there's not a lot of food places around the area of the venue so pack a lunch or get something on the way.

7. Have a good attitude. You're experience will not always be positive. Just like in any industry there are attitudes and egos to deal with. Just focus on what you're there to accomplish. If anything you can use the 'fuck you' smile' where you just smile as big as possible to cover the disdain you have to the person you're talking to.

So those are my tips. Have you volunteered? Did I miss anything? Again, hit me on twitter or at the comment box for your own advices!

UPDATE: If you're curious on how you can volunteer yourself, check out this post.


  1. Good tips! I 'll keep your advice in mind. This is my first time volunteering so I'm pretty excited and very much expecting all the hard work! Can't wait to get a glimpse of the thrill, meet people and work as much as possible!

  2. I'm glad you find my tips helpful. Good luck with volunteering. It will be a great learning experience for you. Also if you'd like feel free to email me or follow me at twitter.com/JERRLIFE if you have any questions.

  3. Hey! I loved reading your article.. and I wanted to know if there's any other similar Fashion events that will take place soon, I would love to volunteer and learn.
    They're not hiring anymore volunteers for the Toronto Fashion Week 2012, so I'm late :(

  4. Hi,

    First of all thanks for the kind words.

    Second, get in touch with me through email at jerrrlife@gmail.com so I can personally give you advice. I don't really want to talk an anonymous person.

  5. I love all your suggestions for volunteering at fashion week, but how do I go about becoming a volunteer??

  6. Great suggestions for volunteering! I tried to download the form online to volunteer for the next one coming up but for some reason the form wasn't on the site. How did you volunteer?

  7. Great tips...but how and where can i apply? i typed in Toronto fashion week volunteer and jobs- but found nothing. :)

  8. hello these are great tips, thank you!
    i wanted to volunteer for the Toronto fashion week; i was wondering how do i go about it. where can i sign up for it?

  9. thank you for these tips! I'm reallynervous i have an interview for volunteering at a Melbourne fashion festival and I'm super nervous! xx www.youhadmeatvogue.com