Inside Tommy Hilfiger's InstaPit

The toughest ticket at the Tommy Hilfiger Fall 2016 show was not front row, but rather a seat in the "InstaPit." A New York Fashion Week first, it was a separate influencer-only section, located on risers for maximum visibility, and guarded by three PR girls who flat out refused to let anyone inside who didn't have the golden "k" follower count.

Among the 14 hand-picked Instagram stars was @CaroDaur, a fashion blogger from Milan with 455k followers, and her best friend, @StephanieGiesinger, a 19-year-old German model with 1.7m followers. The two met at an Instagram event two years ago and bonded over a shared love of cupcakes and brunch. Their popularity on the platform led to a much-coveted selfie with Kendall and Kylie Jenner at the sisters' launch party last week.

Sitting front row in the "pit" was @CelineAagaard_ (121k followers), who was also live-streaming the show on the website she founded, Envelope. She anxiously toggled back and forth between Instagram and Safari on her XL iPhone to make sure both were up and running. She'd attended dozens of Tommy Hilfiger shows before as an editor, and even a former editor-in-chief of the Norwegian publication StyleMag. Now she found herself rubbing shoulders with Instagram's elite. "Of course, these people have influence, but too many of them do it just to put pictures out there of themselves," she said flatly. "They're not interested in the clothes. That, I think, is really bad."

As the lights went down before the show began, a hush feel over the Insta-pit. The influencers cocked their cameras, ready to focus and fire. They watched the entire show through their screens, which is precisely what they were there to do. One woman even came all the way from Argentina just for the occasion; she was going to do whatever it took to get the shot. The only image @StephanieGiesinger has posted, though, is of herself holding a shimmering Tommy Hilfiger clutch. In one hour, it's gotten over 52,000 likes.

While Instagram influencers have received special treatment this season, everyone at the Tommy Hilfiger show was part of the "InstaPit," figuratively speaking. The set resembled a giant cruise ship, with two functional smokestacks, life rafts, and a wood-paneled boat deck. Sitting front row was Lucky Blue Smith, while another favorite Instagram model, Gigi Hadid was working: She opened and closed the show in shimmering gold outfits that were ideal for both a photo op and your next nautical Sweet Sixteen. According to Pixlee, a marketing company that tracks social media, the #TommyFall16 and #TommyHilfiger hashtags reached 137,170,550 people on Instagram.

The real photo op came after the show ended, when guests rushed the set to snap a photo of themselves sailing the "Hilfiger Line." Eventually, they all got their selfies, hanging around at the Park Avenue Armory long after the models left to edit them meticulously on VOSCO Cam. Then they hopped overboard.