The Australian fashion community is growing, albeit we still do not command an image that is on par with other fashion capitals of the world, namely London, Paris and New York.
Our geographic limitations, small manufacturing base, opposing seasons as well as our lack of a central fashion organisation mean that we are yet to be seen as more than the country that created ugg boots. Unlike other secondary fashion markets like Brazil and China, Australia’s population is relatively small and in order to sustain a fashion industry it is imperative that we can successfully capture the international market. Our opposing seasons mean that our designers must release both a southern and northern hemisphere collection each season in order to gain momentum.
Brands like Josh Goot, Zimmermann, Lover and Karen Walker have successfully implemented this strategy. A common thread between these successful brands has been their ability to play to the strengths of our market. The more contemporary labels that incorporate carefree designs and fabrics are successful on the international stage. Asia Pacific brands that have gained success at an international level have become ubiquitous for their transeasonal pieces, allowing our opposing seasons to work in their favour rather than against.
In terms of long-term development of Asia Pacific fashion community, it seems the lack of a central fashion council may be causing the most detriment. The CFDA in the US in collaboration with Anna Wintour each year awards a young designer with monetary support of US$300,000. The support from industry leaders along with government grants has allowed young designers to get a foothold in the US market.
It is important for the Australia Pacific area to be recognised for the innovative and interesting styles that we are creating. Changing the image that clouds our fashion industry is vital if we are going to continue to grow and sustain the talent that we have. Enabling the growth of our industry comes down to industry figures supporting and championing those entering the industry. Our lack of central fashion bodies in the Asia Pacific is key to our future development.
One of the difficulties to overcoming this stereotype is changing the dynamic of the current industry. Fashion communities are notorious for their cliques, however on a whole this is suitable for larger communities like New York, not so for smaller cities like Brisbane or Perth that are not commonly viewed as a fashion hub.
With the creation of a central fashion council that actively awards monetary and mentoring assistance we will be able to sustain our industry and mentor the next generation of fashion creatives.