2013 Wrap Up: The state of the Australian Fashion Industry


It has been an interesting year in the Australian fashion industry, one that saw the first ever Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia held out at Carriageworks to mild success (there was grumblings of poor scheduling and lack of surprise from many brands on show). But what else has happened throughout the year?

We round up the 2013 activities below.

Australian Fashion Designers/Brands:

  • Kym Ellery finds herself in legal drama over breaking her contract with Myer. (April 2013)
  • Lisa Ho was forced to shut down her brand that she had founded 30 years ago due to financial troubles. (June 2013)
  • The best thing to happen to Australian fashion in recent years, Dion Lee, had an undisclosed percentage acquired by The Cue Clothing Company – a company he had previously worked with to create a capsule collection for. (June 2013)
  • Kirrily Johnston puts her 12 year old label into voluntary administration. (July 2013)
  • Alannah Hill steps away from her namesake brand that she founded 18 years ago. She won’t be gone from the Australian fashion industry though, saying that she wants to continue to create fashion that radiates joy. (August 2013)
  • Sass & Bide’s co-founders Sarah-Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton (pictured above) resigned as directors of the label they founded in 1999 with new owners (department store, Myer) purchasing the remaining shares from the brand. (November 2013)
  • Kit Willow left the brand that bears her name under some controversy that her departure was “disgraceful”. The Apparel Group, who own Willow, went on the record to say that Kit was “no longer part of Willow of the Apparel Group” and fellow designers rallied around her, posting Instagram messages of support. (November 2013)
  • Collette Dinnigan closed her popular bridal and ready-to-wear brand, wanting to focus on being a good mother. Fans of Dinnigan can still buy lingerie that still bears her name from David Jones – no word on whether this line will still be kept running. (November 2013)

Fashion Weeks around Australia:

  • Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia is held at Carriageworks for the first time
  • L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival was announced that its naming rights sponsor was no Virgin Australia – becoming Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, or VAMFF.


While bricks and mortar retail continues to struggle, especially specialist retailers in and around Oxford Street in Sydney), international chain stores are finally arriving on Australian shores:

  • GAP Inc signs franchise deal with OrotonGroup, meaning that the likes of Bannana Republic and Old Navy will be opening in Australia in the coming years
  • 2013 was the year in which H&M and Uniqlo announced that they will open in Melbourne and Sydney respectively in 2014.
  • Topshop and Zara continue to expand around Australia with new store openings in Brisbane and Adelaide.


Luxury Retail:

The luxury market has seen success in comparison to the local Australian brands, with the likes of Chanel, Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton revealing shiny new stores in Melbourne and Sydney.

In the media:

  • Glossy magazine fans shed a tear or two when it was announced that Grazia Australia and Madison were to be closed by publisher Bauer Media Group.
  • And then they instantly rejoiced when it was announced that Elle Australia would be launched.
  • Australian Fashion Bloggers become ‘personalities’, following the international trend where bloggers get representation by modelling and talent agencies. Girls like Nicole Warne (Gary Pepper Girl), Sara Donaldson (Harper Harley) and Chloe Morrello now have agents pushing them forward to be faces, spokespeople and more.