There is no doubt, many Australian fashionistas who know lots about international fashion. I too, have from time to time posted fashion trends from overseas. But how does Australian fashion fair overseas?
Imran Amed, editor of the Business of Fashion attempts to answer my question. He was a guest of IMG at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week.
Australian fashion has an image problem. When I mentioned to friends that I was thinking of attending Rosemount Australian Fashion Week in Sydney, the reaction ranged from raised eyebrows to incredulous laughter. Others quipped that the sum total of Australia’s contribution to global fashion could be distilled down to Ugg boots and swimwear.
Is this true? Yes Australia designs awesome swimwear and practical wear (Ugg boots should never been seen outside the comforts of your home, I’m looking at you Gwyneth Paltrow), but we also have great designers such as Martin Grant or Collette Dinnigan. They might not work at established Fashion Houses, or be at cutting edge of fashion, such as Christopher Kane but Martin and Collette create beautiful, timeless pieces made from luxurious fabrics.
In multiple ways, it seems the cards are stacked against the Australian fashion industry. Apart from the fact that Sydney is more than 20 hours away by plane from all of the major fashion capitals, the value of the Australian dollar has increased by over 100 percent in the last ten years, from 53 to 106 Australian cents to the US dollar. This has made products exported from Australia very expensive, though raw materials and services from abroad have also therefore become much cheaper, an important consideration in a country where local apparel manufacturing is scarce.
This is very true, don’t you think? It would be very difficult to compete in a market that is over saturated. For example a Camilla & Marc retails on net-a-porter in the same price range as 3.1 Philip Lim, Zac Posen, Stella McCartney and Missoni where labels have brand recognition for style and quality.
Imran further discusses the arrival of fast fashion and the online disconnect, adding that “Australia is now the third or fourth most important market for many international fashion e-tailers, a ranking that is disproportionate to the country’s relatively small population. [Yet] Australian retailers have been very slow to move online, citing complications with logistics and complaining about the unfair tax advantages… If Shopbop can get the goods all the way from America to Australia without issue, it’s surprising that local retailers cannot even organise themselves to deliver domestically”. Overall, a very balanced post that raises some good points.
What is being done to promote and support our fashion industry and in turn, what is the industry planning to do to compete with the arrival of international fast fashion labels and the growth of online shopping? Should we be tapping into China? China is a new market that has the potential to embrace new brands. There is a lot at stake given that the broader textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) industries in Australia provide over 48,000 jobs, generate exports worth $1.6 billion, and contribute $2.8 billion to our economy each year.*
Do you have any ideas? What do you think about the business-ey side of fashion?