New guard of Aussie designers lure global interest

Fri Apr 30, 2010 2:11am EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Australia's fashion industry is putting on the glitz for its major annual show next week with prospects brighter after the financial crisis and rising global interest in a new guard of Down Under designers.

Last year's Rosemount Australian Fashion Week was 15 percent smaller than the previous year with only 41 shows which mirrored similar cuts at shows in the major fashion capitals of London, Paris, New York and Milan.

But Daniel Hill, general manager of event organizer IMG Fashion Australia, said interest had picked up this year with more than 60 shows scheduled between May 3-7 and over 165 registered international buyers and media, up from 134 last year.

International buyers attending Australia's 15th annual fashion week includes Selfridges and Net-A-Porter from Britain, Fred Segal and Urban Outfitters from the United States, and a significant increase in interest from Japan.

"Last year was tough around the world but Australian designers are pretty resilient and this year is looking really positive with a strong schedule," Hill told Reuters.

"Australia is seen as a market that can provide something different to international buyers and, while we have the established names, we also have the new guard, like Dion Lee, Konstantina Mittas, and Romance Was Born, which are targets for buyers coming here."

The 2010 fashion week got off to an early start when designer Carla Zampatti opened up her Sydney mansion this week to show her new spring/summer 2010/11 collection of sleek, fitted suits, crisp shirts, and taffeta and organza evening-wear.

Zampatti is not the only high profile designer opting to do her own show outside fashion week or invest in showing at New York or London fashion weeks instead which get greater coverage. Other notable absentees this year are Sass and Bide, Wayne Cooper, Bowie, Willow and Collette Dinnigan.   Continued...

<p>A model waits in the backstage of Akira show during the last day of Australian Fashion week in Sydney May 2, 2008. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz</p>