Project Runway: Fashion Startup

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Project Runway: Fashion Startup TV Poster Image
Reality competition spin-off mixes fashion, business savvy.

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Positive Messages

Highlights some of the processes and roadblocks associated with marketing fashion products. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Investors are blunt, critical, and very constructive in their feedback; contestants are serious businesspeople who work hard.


Some entrepreneurs get defensive, raise their voices. 


Accessories include bras, etc


Fashion and lifestyle brands like Rebecca Minkoff, Birchbox, Ralph Lauren, Gwynnie Bee, etc.; all shown in context. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Project Runway: Fashion Startup is a Project Runway-spinoff following entrepreneurs seeking investors for their fashion-inspired companies. There’s some occasional mild arguing, and, as expected, lots of fashion brands featured, including Birchbox, Ralph Lauren, Rebecca Minkoff, and Gwynnie Bee. Teen fashion enthusiasts may be interested, but the focus this time around is more on the marketing versus the design side of the business. 

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What's the story?

PROJECT RUNWAY: FASHION STARTUP, an installment of the Project Runway franchise, features entrepreneurs competing for a chance to get funding from a major fashion investor for their fashion-inspired startup. Contestants pitch their products to a panel of investors, including designer Rebecca Minkoff, Birchbox cosmetics co-founder Katia Beauchamp, fashion investor Gary Wassner, and digital entrepreneur and Gwynnie Bee company founder Christine Hunsicker. Some are sent away, while others get immediate investment offers. A handful are asked to “road test” their product by setting up pop up stores and focus test their products. They're also paired up with business leaders in the fashion industry who serve as mentors. When contestants return, they must face the panel again to see if they can secure a deal. 

Is it any good?

This semi-original spinoff series mixes some of the intensity of Shark Tank with some the traditional fashion design-themed discussions of Project Runway. But most of the conversations revolve around developing a product that can be successfully branded and sold for a major profit, and the amount of research, time, cash, energy, and perseverance it takes to do it. 

Fashionistas may think differently about how fun the fashion world is after watching folks pitch their products, discuss marketing plans, and forecast profit margins. But those seriously interested in pursuing a career in the fashion industry may learn something from Project Runway: Fashion Startup.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes the Project Runway franchise so popular. Do you think spin-offs like Fashion Startup offer an honest look at what goes into the fashion business? Are they designed to teach something? 

  • Many people have interesting ideas or innovative designs, but is this enough to build a company? What kinds of things do people have to do and have to have in order to be successful in the fashion (or any) industry? 

TV details

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