Making a fortune with fashion isn't unheard of, but taking the world by storm with their unique style and vision, Australian designers are the next 'must have' on the catwalks.
It would seem that the global fashion community can't get enough of the antipodean style, indeed Collette Dinnigan's range has been on show to the fussy French fashion shows since 1995, with the Paris press praising her feminine designs. In fact her designs are currently stocked in over 100 boutiques around the world, including one in Chelsea green, an exclusive London suburb, which is her own store. Dinnigan's current net worth, as estimated by BRW magazine is $20 million. I'm sure you'll agree, not bad at all.
Another great example of a fashion explosion is hot jeans label Tsubi. 150 outlets stock the trendy trousers in Australia and the USA alone, including its New York City store. Tsubi's three founders have an estimated net worth of over $19 million between them and contribute their phenomenal success to USA export.
In fact the USA has a huge demand for Australian fashion, which has led to the opening of specialist boutiques. From We of the Never Never and Sheila, Los Angeles based retailers, to Frock Star recently opened on LA's Sunset Boulevard. The down under designers are set to rock the fashion world, with well received previews of their ranges from Dubai to LA and every fashion capital between.
Rebecca Davies of 'Bare' explains the growing appeal of Australian fashion as a matter of seeking that which is original and unique on an international level. "In the '80's and '90's it was all about the designer label, the big fashion houses," Davies says. "Now customers are far more discerning and are looking for something unique, new and different. In a very short time the design entity in this country has pulled its socks up."
There has been a massive attitude change in recent years, explains Lydia Pearson, one half of the luxe clothing brand Easton Pearson. When she and her business partner launched their business from their Brisbane homes, they feared rejection because they were from Queensland and as a result didn't admit to it.
"The fashion buyers in Sydney thought we were from Melbourne and those in Melbourne thought we were from Sydney," Pearson smiles. "We could never admit we were from Queensland or we'd never even get an appointment to see them."
"Back then, if it didn't come from Europe, it wasn't worth having. Now people are keen for something individual and unusual. They don't mind where it comes from, and it's almost an exotic advantage to be from somewhere almost unheard of in the fashion sense," she continues.
It has been suggested by some fashion writers that the Brisbane based brand may indeed be Australia's first luxe fashion line, and with a staggering 65 percent of Easton Pearson's product being exported, buyers around the world would seem to agree. The United States is their most important export market as far as $$ are concerned, closely followed by Japan, but also, very popular in boutique fashion outlets in Italy and the Middle East's Dubai, Kuwait and Qatar.
Of course not only female clothing is globally successful, men's swimwear and underwear designers, aussiBum are smiling all the way to the bank. The brands founder, Sean Ashby, was told that nobody would buy his Nylon swimwear by the major department stores. So in defiance, and to prove them wrong, he opened an internet presence and started selling online.
AussieBum now turns over more than $10 million each year and is expanding at the impressive rate of 20 percent each quarter. Surprisingly enough Australia's sales make up only 10 percent of Sean's sales with Europe accounting for 40 percent and the American's taking a further 35 percent.
"It's really a lot of bloody hard work, "Sean laughs. "I used to boast how I'd work in the morning then go to the beach in the afternoon. The only time I do that now is when I go to meet with one of the surf clubs we sponsor. I really have a great level of respect for Australian designers as I know how much crap and bullying they endure to do what they love."
Sean's creative use of technology and closeness to the market is a great tool to ensure the future and success of the Australian fashion industry, according to Ashley Van Krieken, executive director of the Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia (TFIA).
"There is not one set of magic items that will guarantee success," he says. "But it's important to develop a brand, a name that is recognised both domestically and potentially overseas. Another important area to concentrate on is quality and finish, "…"companies that maximise the use of the internet, for selling and for improving supply chain logistics, are also going to have a greater chance of success," he says.
So what does this mean to fashion export spending? Here are some recent clothing figures;
As you can see, the potential is enormous but these figures are only based on Australian sales! This is a huge pie for designers to split between them, but thinking about the larger picture of the massive global market, these figures are relatively small, pale in comparison.
If you're a designer thinking about going global then there is little time to waste, get your product out there and show the world your talents. The time is now.