I personally wasn't going to attend the event, with tickets at £45 each along with travel and hotel, I genuinely just could not afford it, but when I was asked to cover the event and have my expenses etc paid, it seemed like too good an opportunity to pass on, and I must admit, my curiosity really did get the better of me. I am after all, only human.
So I guess this is a really weird post for me to write. On a purely selfish level, I don't want to be perceived as being a bitch, but all I can do is genuinely report my experience of the event.
First off, I have to say, all credit to the team, they created a huge buzz around the event, they secured some amazing brands, massive amounts of publicity and some big stars. But, and there is a huge but (excuse the fat pun) something just didn't work or gel.
I tried to go with an open mind and be as unbiased and neutral as I possibly could, after all I was there representing a brand, but I couldn't help but make comparisons to our event.
The venue although stunning from the outside was very shabby and not fit for purpose, the event had been billed as this huge weekend, purposefully scheduled to coincide with LFW to make a statement, plus size fashion can compete with straight sized fashion, but what we was greeted with was a very run down, scruffy building with unwelcoming staff, little information as to where events were taking place and cramped, dark spaces.
We firstly stopped by the Market Place, a small room, packed with plus size brands. It was great to see some familiar faces, catch up with people and meet new and exciting brands, but, to be fair once you'd done that for an hour maximum, there really wasn't anything else to do. There was no social area, no seating area, groups of women huddled in corridors or out on the street chatting, which in itself was brilliant, I just wish they/I would have had somewhere more comfortable to do it, with no refreshments available we spent much of our time popping across the road to a corner shop to buy drinks as it was so hot and stuffy at the venue.
We then went on to check out the clothes swap, it was what it was really, there was a rail of clothes to which you added yours and then decided on items to swap.
After killing a couple of hours chatting, walking round the market place again we headed up for the Plus Size Discussion Panel. I actually really enjoyed this portion of the day, it was interesting to hear other women's thoughts and questions on the Plus Size Community, and to hear from the perspective of designers and fashion buyers. If anything I wish it could have gone on a little longer. I think if they were to do it again next year it might be worth looking at doing it in a proper conference space, a huge hall and microphones don't always mix, the acoustics weren't great and the panel struggled to understand what was being said to them.
After the panel, we were ushered out of the room into the down stairs lobby area, the vendors at the market place were already packing up so we found ourselves squeezed in to a corridor like sardines for what felt like an eternity. Looking around I saw lots of weary faces, who after such a long day with nowhere to sit down we're being made to wait around even longer. Eventually we were allowed back into to large hall (which architecturally was stunning) where we awaited the fashion show. Billed as being hosted by Gemma Collins, it was instead hosted by a lady I wasn't familiar with wearing a skinny bashing T-Shirt saying "I don't want to be size 0" who then went on to tell a really rude joke about how skinny people should eat something *groan* surely we're over this us and them mentality? I don't hate thin people, I don't wish them ill or expect them to put weight on to make me feel better, because I'm happy being a fat woman, I don't need to be rude to thin women to validate me and my body thank you very much.
I digress, the show, which was running 20 minutes late finally got underway, out came model after model in some great outfits, and it was at this point I held my hands up and thought, yeh, you know what ladies? you've got me here, this is a great show, the models look amazing, the atmosphere had a great buzz about it, and I felt proud to be part of something so positive, but then unfortunately things took a nose dive again, the show was very long and drawn out with lots of technical problems.
All in all, the event was a huge disappointment for me, if less time had been spent schmoozing the press and more time spent focussing on what the customer might have needed, what would have made the people paying out £45 of their hard earned cash feel more positive I might have been able to come away with some more positive things to say. The organisation, communication and customer relations left a lot to be desired.
The organisers worked hard, I totally get that, I understand what it's like to run a big event, the amount of hours it takes liaising with brands, dealing with customer queries, but I just felt the event was pitched as this big, glamorous, empowering event to rival LFW, but what we was in fact met with was a big fat disappointment.