We’ve been reporting on Australian Fashion Week since the dawn of Flaunter, and every year we come away with a new-found appreciation for caffeine and for the PRs that give their all to make sure the shows go off without a hitch.
This year, we thought we’d share some of our biggest lessons from talking with PRs, stylists, designers, editors and those behind-the-scenes heroes making Fashion Week happen. From the perfect marriage of <<fashion and tech>> to Fashion Week becoming consumer centric, here’s what we’re taking away from Afterpay Australian Fashion Week ‘21.
Fashion Week is Now in the Hands of Consumers
After missing out on the 25th anniversary celebrations, this year saw the rebirth of Australian Fashion Week in a format that was more accessible for consumers. However, this isn’t just an Australian phenomenon. Once for industry insiders only, then an influencer street style fest, the general public are now able to shop the looks directly from the runway. WWD and Vogue asked the question back in 2019, are public runways the future of Fashion Week, and it seems that the answer is yes. The purpose of the shows have changed in recent years, and now offer an opportunity for labels to provide an immersive brand experience to those who aspire to wear their clothes. According to Vogue, “The first priority is to create a community, the cool kids come and they love the fashion and they share their experience.”
Tech is Changing the Game
Tech partnerships bring a whole lot to the Fashion Week table. This year, Afterpay’s goal was to modernise Fashion Week with activations like the integration of see-now, buy-now runways like <<Shona Joy>>. The pairing of <<fashion and technology>> isn’t new to AAFW ‘21, but it’s never been more important for PRs to embrace what tech has to offer. Whether that’s software to increase efficiency or the latest social media channel, PRs need to be integrating tech tools into their day to day business operations to make sure we’re always offering the most value to the brands we represent.
Real Life Runways Don’t Have to be the Norm
MacGraw and Shona Joy were just two of the brands who were able to create stunning experiences without the need for in-person showings. Changing the focus to creating digital assets that would stand the test of time beyond a 15 minute runway show, as well as integrating extra hooks like see-now, buy-now set these shows apart from the in-person events. While in-person shows offer the ability to fully immerse editors in a designers vision, streamed shows can reach a much wider audience, allowing consumers, as well as editors, to buy into the excitement. Streamed shows also offer brands that don’t have the budget for huge in-person shindigs to still create something truly beautiful, making the overall experience of Fashion Week more inclusive for up-and-coming designers.
Fashion Should Stand for Something
Fashion is a major contributor to some of society’s biggest ills, and has a massive role to play in changing the way people consume. Designers, stylists and influencers need to use their profiles to stand for something. This year, Afterpay Australian Fashion Week was launched with a Welcome to Country to highlight the significance of Carriageworks to the history and future of Indigenous Australian creativity, solidarity and sovereignty. Sessions were also run on topics like Fashion as a Force for Change, exploring how Australian fashion brands can be a force of change by embedding and activating responsible practices into their business – through diversity, gender equality, ethical practice and sustainability. The AAFW team also worked with a number of fashion advocates from a range of backgrounds to bring an inclusive perspective to the shows. Sustainability, inclusivity and equity are no longer just buzzwords in fashion, and consumers in particular are expecting the brands they support to be actively working to make a difference in the world.
Fashion Isn’t Dead
Yes, it’s been a hard slog over the last 18 months, but fashion is in no way dead. Afterpay’s sponsorship of Fashion Weeks around the world confirms it – consumers want to buy, and fashion needs to meet them on their terms. The growth in eCommerce over the last year, both in Australia and around the world demonstrates that fashion is entering into an exciting new chapter. According to Shopify Plus, the global ecommerce fashion industry is set to hit $672.71 billion by 2023, driven by expanding global markets outside the West, increasing online access and smartphone penetration and emerging worldwide middle classes with disposable income.