Australia’s fashion industry has grown around the relaxed, casual demeanour of the people it designs for, as well as their love of outdoors living. But it also reflects the sophisticated, cosmopolitan and multicultural nature of Australian society. Most Australians are comfortable in T-shirts and foot thongs (flip-flops) one minute and appreciative of innovative high fashion the next. The bold colours of sunny Australian beaches and the starkly contrasting hues of the country’s central desert landscapes are captured in Australia’s fashion palette.
Australia has a long history of world-renowned swimwear manufacture. In 1928, Speedo swimwear was launched by Alexander MacRae in Sydney and the brand became world famous after Australians wore it in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Australia now boasts top-of-the-line swim- and surf-wear brands such as Roxy, Billabong, Rip Curl and Seafolly.
Urban wear and high fashion
The urban streetwear and haute couture components of Australia’s fashion industry are also thriving. A new generation of streetwear designers takes its inspiration from Australia’s surf culture, graffiti and art and has created its own unique style.
Dynamic new labels include Ksubi, based near Sydney’s Bondi Beach; Sass & Bide, which has a cult following among the younger Hollywood set; and Willow, a lingerie line.
Inspired by an extraordinary range of Australian fashion textiles and cultural influences, many Australian designers have received international attention in recent years. Australian fashion creations, such as those by Wayne Cooper, Carla Zampatti, Easton Pearson, Nicola Finetti, Bettina Liano, Martin Grant, Michelle Jank and Lisa Ho, are in worldwide demand.
Hot on the calendar
Melbourne lays claim to being Australia’s fashion capital, hosting the L’Oréal Fashion Festival every March. The festival offers fashion lovers a choice of catwalk shows, parties, product launches, exhibitions and industry events that capture the glamour and creativity of Australian fashion.
Australia also hosts the biannual Rosemount Australian Fashion Week. Previously staged in Melbourne, the event was moved to Sydney’s Circular Quay in 2007. It showcases more than 150 designers’ spring/summer collections in May and their autumn/winter collections in October.
Rosemount Australian Fashion Week is an exclusive, industry-only event, made accessible to registered buyers, agents, media, stylists and other industry representatives. It features ready-to-wear, street wear, swimwear, men’s and women’s apparel, intimate apparel, footwear and children’s wear. A selection of Australia’s and the Asia–Pacific’s best designers present their collections to some of the world’s most significant buyers, media and industry influencers.