With the season of fashion shows just passed, it’s pretty hard not to notice the sheer volume of charity fashion shows that take place in St Andrews. From FS, Catwalk, and Sitara, to the smaller scale versions such as Friendly Dementia St Andrews’s “Wardrobe Stories” and the body-positivity oriented Label, this culture of charity fashion shows in our small town is one of the first things I remember noticing about the St Andrews event scene. Yet, one question I’ve always wondered in relation to this phenomenon is: why?
Why the apparent obsession and interest in fashion shows as a charity fundraiser and event genre? Sure, every university has a particular event genre depending on the average “type” of student largely attending it – artsy universities tend to cater to alternative and borderline “hipster-esque” events and nightlife, such as techno or funk events, and self-appointed “party” unis place an emphasis on an eclectic and busy nightlife. So, by this reasoning, is St Andrews’ fashion show culture a product of a fashionable student body? By all appearances, not necessarily so.
It’s true that there is a bit of a running gag that students here dress to impress. It’s certainly evident that the library is utilised by some as a mini fashion show in itself, with a considerable amount of knee-high boots and immaculate hair-dos to be seen. However, this doesn’t indicate a particularly invested interest in fashion among students, per say. With the infamously heavy workload among courses, many people go to the library dressed in preparation for attending events straight afterwards, for example. To be fair, for the poor souls with extra heavy workloads, the library may, indeed, be the social highlight of the day (uni life ain’t always as wild as they say, let’s face it). My point is that an interest in looking your best doesn’t necessitate an interest in fashion, and certainly not in the more outlandish couture of high brand fashion shows.
Are fashion shows St Andrews’ answer to the sheer lack of nightlife in the town? At some point did everyone just cave in attempting to establish a credible events scene, and decided fashion shows were the way to go? Don’t get me wrong, the charity element to the fashion shows across the board is a fantastic attribute, and with more and more of them cropping up each year, they’re certainly tapping into some aspect of people’s interests that I’m obviously just not managing to grasp.
That being said, this charity niche isn’t altogether without its problems. For one, the most excessively hyped-up versions emerge as more of a brand than a charity event, and I get the sense that organisers would be willing to contribute extra money and resources to making their brand a success and the “place-to-be” at the expense of their respective charities (free champagne and luxurious goodie bags come to mind).
All in all, my problem doesn’t really lie in the nature of the fashion shows. The Dementia Society and Label even bring a fresh angle to the plethora of shows, with vintage theme and body positivity respectively. I guess I’m just pretty baffled by the immense popularity and success of them, is all.