Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Oz shining.....really?

Around the world or at least in the fashionable parts of our globe every year there are a few days and nights when the fashion brigade comes out in their full pomp and show. The streets are brimming with heaps of gorgeous ladies, prints, furs, handbags and Ready to Wear collections and exclusive Couture pieces, street stylists, bloggers, shutterbugs, editors, buyers and the works. These highly exuberant few days in the corridors of Paris, New york and Milan are known as the Fashion week. On the other hand our actual fashion weeks turns out to be a damp display of attendance and confusion for various reasons. 
In Australia we have our very own fashion calendar, each year all the pretty young girls in OZ marks a certain date “The Spring races.” 

Preparations are made in advance and no stone is left unturned on the day of the races. The Crème de la crème of the Australian fashion scene comes out in their full bloom and it is a sight for sore eyes. It may not be as glamorous as the fashion seen on the streets of Milan but it is the best of the Australian glamour.

What is the Australian sense of style…what is their fashion image?

 This question not only puzzles us as a living member of the fashion fraternity here but also to the other distant fashion hemispheres who sit some 20 odd hours apart wondering what is happening in the land down under? The image they usually saw was of the beach goddesses or the casual lads working up a barbeque, but we are so much more than that and the world also seems to have noticed. Some of our fashion champions who have been able to hit foreign shores have increased the world’s interest in the Australian design set. Earlier we were accused of generously picking influences from the runways of the other parts of the world but times have changed now. 

We bring a different approach and a fresh appeal to the already repetitive and highly competitive fashion industry. Designer labels like Zimmerman and Sass & bide and most recently Christopher Esber and Dion Lee have all intrigued the fashion buying capacity of major runways and they want to see more of the designers breeding here. 

This is further bringing stylists and editors of major magazines like ELLE USA and and Marie Claire USA to our front rows. The blogger sphere is also booming with young, spirited yet original females from Australia like Nicole from Gary Pepper and Jess Stein from Tuula, Zanita etc who are all celebrities in their own right with followers amassing millions. 

These young guns are all global in their appeal and are fast moving in their approach and adapt to different fashion scenes like a chameleon adding to their likeability. When the young fashion capacity is showing so much promise for a brighter fashionable future then one begins to wonder what is holding the Australian design industry back?? The answer to this is notably visible on the streets…no wait…. in the stores to be precise.

Real estate in Australia is slipping from the reach of a common man and as a designer you already have too many government and tax limitations on production, import/export, labours wages and labour laws that it becomes increasingly expensive to sustain. Plus the disadvantage of being a season behind doesn’t help clearing stocks either and leads to losses on domestic revenue or international sales. Emergence of giants like H&M, Uniqlo is a further blow to domestic retailers, even giants like David Jones and Meyer are struggling. Australia is a land of vast distances and not everybody can travel to the metro cities like Melbourne or Sydney to shop, hence the option of online shopping becomes too lucrative for them and the way these online stores have been delivering competitively low prices in the few past seasons it is easy to lure even the toughest non believers like me. For any upcoming designer in Australia there is a dearth of information in regards to what is the path that one needs to tread in order to launch their brand. This lack of support and guidance along with the restrictions is forcing many of the domestic brands to shut shop or move to different countries in order to grow and be noticed. It is actually sad to see so much of our indigenous talent feeling so disheartened and commercially stuck in a rut.

But there is a ray of hope for our industry and she is known as Edwina McCann. 

The industry expert has years of experience in the field of fashion and she is putting it to good use by stirring a few things at the Australian Fashion Chamber. She has encouraged the need to support our young talent and is sowing seeds for a stronger future with her Mentorship programs as well as the various new fashion platforms bringing Australian designers to the forefront in Paris and Milan. She believes that there is no lack of talent in Australia it is only a matter of opportunity and the right platform that these designers need. “The world is moving fast and the social media is changing the way we look at fashion each day. Every garment, every image is shared across the globe in a matter of minutes. We don’t have to wait for the images anymore every person at the event with a phone or an Instagram account can review every single detail on a certain dress walking down the runway as we speak so in a fast pace like today the designers need to adapt and think of newer strategies to be able to have a global approach towards their marketing and brand appeal. More adaptability equals to more sales hence you need to understand the trade and grow accordingly."

The past may be dysfunctional but the future certainly looks bright. Major fashion giants and publications have been setting up offices in Australia, the newest one being Buro24/7 which is bringing our domestic designer wear to the wardrobes of the world and making it easier to see a sustainable future where the clothes are pretty and Paris is cheap.

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