Tick Tock Tick Tock … who’ll be next for the chopping block?
Why is it that an industry with so much talent and so much promise, essentially, does not function as it should?
I am referring to the Australian fashion industry … well, at least part of it.
Recently, I launched a new online platform called Label Ministry. Its purpose, amongst other things is to provide much needed support and exposure to all Australian fashion designers, both emerging and established. This platform provides a stage to showcase the talent and aspirations of our amazing designers and to connect them on a personal level with the fashionistas of the world, and their fashion consumer audience to access a greater level of global exposure, recognition, success and profitability.
In addition to this, the platform is open also to all creative teams who work in Australian fashion, be they models, photographers, stylists and so on.
It seems to me this initiative is long overdue and that has the power to not only change our industry not only in a positive way, but to revolutionise our beloved industry. To bring back the joy, glory and the success.
In April, I attended Mercedes Benz Fashion Week and witnessed fabulous talent on each and every day that I attended. It was truly exciting to embrace the level of sheer genius. There is no doubt in my mind that we have the best designers and creative teams that the world has to offer. That is where this wonderful story ends.
It seems that there are some however that are too cool for school.
People, who believe that if Tom Ford is not on the end of the phone line, it is not worth their time and energy to embrace a new opportunity or talk about a new platform of exposure.
It seems that we are a fashion community full of apathy, discourteous to boot, with a sincere lack of commitment. Have we become so entitled in our attitudes that we believe we can all sit back and wait for people to gift us amazing opportunities without making any effort?
It seems to me that unless someone comes along with a bundle of money, it’s hard to get your phone call returned. The good old fashioned opportunity doesn’t seem to cut it anymore.
Do we really believe that Australian fashion is going to thrive with no effort, big egos and a long list of creditors? Who are we kidding? Why do we continue to pretend that we are charging towards successful careers, when all we are doing is refusing to invest in ourselves?
No wonder our markets are selling out to overseas designers who understand what it takes to be successful. What is that expression again? “Be careful how you treat people on the way up, because they will be the same people you’ll meet on the way down …”
Without designers we have no fashion industry vehicle or initiative.
Without designers we have no shows, no events, no international interest or global aspirations.
Without shows and events we have no need for models, photographers, stylists, bloggers no matter how famous and certainly no use for creative teams.
Without sufficient interest we can say goodbye to major events, visiting international buyers, and representative global online platforms, not to mention local storytellers like editorial freelancers and glossy magazines.
Without international interest from our surrounding neighbours, particularly Asia, our greatest manufacturing partner, we lose our most important relationship and the ability to produce at affordable cost not to mention their phenomenal buying capacity.
We have compromised our local industry and marginalised our success and profitability so expertly, we can no longer go back.
Say hello to the new world. The one where technology rules, online shopping wins, apathy is cool, and social media gives us permission to hide behind all things positive and sunny. Instagram tells us through pictures that the world of fashion is alive and well, but healthy and prospering. It is certainly not. Pretty girls, expensive handbags, duck faces and bloggers with large followings, do not constitute a profitable and flourishing fashion industry.
And then there’s PR, which in its true form, driven by conscientious professionals works extremely well. And I am lucky enough to know some, but there’s always the ones who revel just a little too much in the power game. We simply need to work together and nurture, very gently, the already precariously placed, fragile and unstable structure we call Australian fashion.
In a small boutique market place such as we have in Australia, there is one reality and it is this.
A full hearted fashion designer has a vision of a conceptual masterpiece which manifests into a beautiful garment with the aid of expert cutting, beautiful fabric and masterful sewing. I think we all know that the end of this fairytale ends with an equally enthusiastic client purchasing the dream. Unfortunately, that is not what happens.
We spend our money on Zara, H&M, TopShop, Forever 21 and the other multinationals without blinking an eye. I have no problem with these brands except that our personal fashion budgets should serve to support our own first.
It’s kind of like buying the groceries and paying the bills for the family next door and then watching your own family starve.
Our money leaves Australia because we do not invest in local designers with our own wallets. Designers go broke and we wonder why?
We have become so distracted with all of the options/images/possibilities in the world of shopping cyberspace that we have forgotten our first call of loyalty to those in our own backyard. We cannot sustain this apathy for long.
Time to play fair. You know. Talk to each other politely and be friendly. Like grown ups. Yes. I’m afraid Australian fashion is just not grown up. Not yet.
We can’t talk openly or honestly about the demise of our industry. We are still hiding, watching and allowing people to struggle and go broke. We seem happy for all our manufacturing to go offshore and welcome with open arms more and more overseas labels to add to the already tenuous and unsustainable pressure on our local market.
Behind the smiles and designer threads, real people’s dreams have been shattered. The emotional and financial cost of our faustian bargain is only just beginning if we continue to ignore this crisis.
Granted there are not many people out there who are prepared to do what I do day in and day out for the industry they love. I get that I am a special case.
Tick Tock Tick Tock … who’ll be next for the chopping block?
No-one, if I have any say in it!
Until next time x