How Much A Runway Show Really Costs
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How Much A Runway Show Really Costs

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Fashion is an industry that is as notorious for its terrible working conditions as it is for beautiful results. But there is not much information about the inner workings of the highly secretive industry. What does a runway fashion show cost? What’s the process behind it? It can be an interesting look at what goes on behind all the dresses, flowers, and Instagrammable moments. Read the complete blog to learn more.

How much does a brand typically spend on a fashion show?

As far as anyone can tell, there is no one way to create a successful runway fashion show. Some companies focus on creativity, while others try to bring out the best in their products.

It's easy to assume that a fashion show is just another part of the media blitz that surrounds a new designer's collection—a photoshoot with models, some press coverage, and maybe some television appearances. But there's more to it than that. A runway show costs anywhere between $10 million to $20 million to produce, and this is without the cost of the clothing involved. That number is hard to come by because fashion shows are privately held events. So no one really knows what it costs to put one together.

Here is a breakdown of the cost included to conduct a runway fashion show by famous designer Christian Siriano:

  • Models: $40,000 to $60,000
  • Established models: +$20,000 from the above range
  • Venue: $20,000 to $50,000
  • Lighting: $10,000 to $40,000
  • Sound: 5000 to $10,000
  • Production: $20,000 to $30,000
  • Seating: $5000 to $10,000
  • Set Design: $20,000-$100,000
  • Catering: $2,000 to $5,000
  • Cab service: $5,000 to $7,000
  • Makeup, Hair and Nails: $0 (Most of these are sponsored)

    Total cost: $125,000 to $312,000

A runway show isn't just about the clothes; it's about producing an experience for the audience—one that will translate into sales for the designers. The biggest expense is paying for models, set design, lighting and sound equipment, and venue fees. Most runway shows have between 100 and 200 people attending.

Steps to conduct a runway show

Steps to conduct a runway show
  1. Choosing a production company: The company providing the technical and location support for a show is called the production company.

    The production company for a fashion show does location scouting, then narrows the possibilities down to several sites, taking into account factors such as price, capacity, and appearance.

Now depending on where the brand chooses, there will be various things to think about, such as how does the brand want to style the venue. Does the venue provide seating? What about lighting and sound? Do they want a raised catwalk or just a carpet? A brand may also need to get qualified people in to sort out the video, audio, and lighting, which means paying for labor for both setup and takedown.

Technical support is expensive if a brand is sponsoring a show.

  1. Finding models: Usually, a team of stylists and designers will begin planning their model search six months before the season begins. Many designers use agencies to find the best models.

    After this search has been completed, designers will meet with their creative teams and decide which models they want to come back for further consideration. The final selections are made based on criteria such as age, height, and body type.

    Once the models have been selected — designers then decide upon their hair, makeup, and overall look for each model.

    Photographers are also brought into the process at this point so that styles can be tested against potential backgrounds and lighting effects.

    Once all of these elements have been finalized, designers and stylists begin working on developing detailed sketches and designs.
  1. Marketing, promoting, and arranging: Press conferences, photo sessions, interviews with the designer, and sometimes fashion shows in different cities are organized for greater visibility.

Determining the ROI of a show

Rebecca Taylor — a renowned New York-based designer, quoted at The Glossy Podcast

Rebecca Taylor — a renowned New York-based designer, quoted at The Glossy Podcast

“You can’t help but when you are doing a show to put things on a runway that ultimately you don't need or you are not gonna sell.”

Every season, designers, stylists, and models work extremely hard to present the best possible collection they can. The designer selects the models, chooses the venue, and coordinates with the stylist to ensure each look is delivered flawlessly. All of this is to showcase the designer’s ability to translate their vision into a fashion reality. 

A runway show is the ultimate form of marketing and can be a powerful tool to promote a brand and sell products. However, the cost associated with a runway show can get out of hand quickly. Cost is one of the most common reasons why designers cancel their runway shows. So how does a designer know it’s worth it? To answer that question, designers first need to understand the costs associated with a runway show.

Usually, brands look at recent data from shows that were staged and compare how many models generated how much revenue from how many shows over how much time.


It's not easy to produce a runway fashion show. A typical runway show is a pricey undertaking for everyone involved. With logistics, materials, and labor involved, these shows cost anywhere from $125,000 to upwards of  $312,000. To put that into perspective, that’s the same price as a luxury car. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and involves a lot of different people, from creatives to models. However, a lavish runway show can make a brand the belle of the ball. It will bring enough eyeballs to a brand to close more clients.
Lastly, fashion designers may visit Fashinza to find the clothes they need for their next runway fashion show.


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