Australian fashion labels are stretching their reach internationally and making an impact in the UK market.
Lazy days on the beach, chic city living, and a relaxed, tropical lifestyle make the Australian way of life a dreamy prospect for many Brits – and in recent seasons, the accompanying Australian aesthetic has been creeping its way into fashion prominence internationally.
Instagram-driven brands hailiing from Australia, such as With Jéan, Finders Keepers and Minkpink, have brought new attention to the country’s offer with their playful, feminine designs. At the top end of the market, the success of brands such as Zimmermann and Ellery have been a precursor for other luxury names from Down Under going international for the first time. Aje is one such brand. With 18 stores in Australia and New Zealand, it made its debut in the UK for autumn 19 with Matchesfashion.
Moreover, during the recent spring 20 trade show seasons, a slew of Australian names entered the scene. For example, Byron Bay based hemp brand Afends showed at Jacket Required with its new agency Out of Step, and at Moda, newly launched fashion agency Aneworld brought three new Aussie names – Love Honor, Portia & Scarlett and Elle Zeitoune – to the UK for the first time.
Drapers highlights some of the Aussie brands making moves overseas and speaks to an expert on the fashion offer Down Under.
The buyer’s view
Felicity Brand, head of buying and merchandising for luxury Australian ecommerce site Mode Sportif, which stocks brands including Ganni, Saloni, RIxo and Olivia von Halle.
Felicity brand mode sportif low res
What kind of Australian brands do you think can perform well in the UK market?
Australian resortwear brands have proved particularly popular in the UK and global market. Some of my personal favourites are: Albus Lumen, Lee Mathews, Fella Swim and St Agni. The reason they work so well is that they all represent the effortless, laid-back coastal lifestyle here and are authentically designed to be worn on 40°C summer days. Every choice of fabric and detail is so well thought through.
Do you think Australian brands are having a “moment” in the UK? Is there opportunity for more to expand?
There is a synergy in attitudes in how Australian and British people like to dress with minimal effort. For example, designers such as Ellery, Dion Lee and Christopher Esber have all put an easy-to-wear twist on sculptural, statement pieces. There’s also a connection between grungier street styles, particularly in Melbourne, which is similar to east London, and I think social media is now playing a far greater role in bringing Australian brands to the spotlight in the UK. For example, most people think womenswear brand Réalisation Par came out of LA, but in fact it started in Melbourne.
Are there any brands you’d highlight as ones to watch?
I am a huge fan of Anna Quan. She totally nails relaxed tailoring – she pioneered this seasons short-suit trend – as well as super-simple shirting.
Christopher Esber has been on my radar for a few seasons now because of his interesting use of detailing – laces, buttons and knots – that still feels feminine but with effortless minimalism.
I also really admire the [New Zealand] ready-to-wear designer Maggie Marilyn for not only producing stunning contemporary designs, but also sourcing ethical and sustainable materials, as well as manufacturing locally.
Ambra Maddalena launched her eponymous swim and resortwear brand in 2017, drawing on her dual Italian and Australian heritage to create a chic, relaxed beach aesthetic.
The brand describes itself as creating summer staples for the “luxe lounging lady”, and focuses on simple, modern styles with hints of the 1980s. High-leg one-pieces and crinkle-textured Bardot bikinis are both highlights.
Sustainability is an important feature for the brand, and swimwear is made using 100% recycled ocean plastic.
It made its debut at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia in May 2019, and at present has seven stockists globally. Luxury retailer Browns is the only UK stockist.
Wholesale prices range from AU$45.95 (£27.82) for bikini separates to AU$215 (£119.73) for a one-piece. email@example.com ambramaddalena.com
Bec & Bridge
Founded in 2003, womenswear brand Bec & Bridge has soared in popularity over recent seasons, as its savvy social presence took advantage of the demand for unique womenswear styles. With almost 570,000 Instagram followers, Bec & Bridge has built itself into one of Australia’s most in-demand Insta-brands.
Best known for its signature slinky slip dresses, the brand offers a low-key, louche glamour and feminine playfulness that characterises many of the most popular Insta-brands. Flowy mini-dresses, satin midis and summer separates in classic floral prints and ginghams provide a sweet yet sexy aesthetic.
In Australia, it is stocked by retailers including luxury department store David Jones. International stockists include Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and Holt Renfrew. Bec & Bridge has 21 UK stockists, including Asos.
Wholesale prices range from £50 for a top to £170 for a blazer. firstname.lastname@example.org becandbridge.com
Aje autumn 19 (1)
Founded by Adrian Norris and Edwina Forest in 2008, Aje is already a leading name on the Australian luxury scene and has now set its sights on international expansion.
The brand made its UK debut when it launched with Matchesfashion for spring 19, and hosted its first showroom in Paris for spring 20, as it seeks to increase its European footprint. It has 18 stores in Australia, as well as a shop in Auckland, New Zealand.
Inspired by the contrasting urban and coastal style and landscapes of Western Australia, designs are easy-to-wear and flattering – with relaxed, oversized silhouettes a signature look. Products are geared to the warm Australian climate: lightweight fabrics and floaty styles are prominent.
Retail prices range from £62 for a T-shirt to £640 for leather trousers. +61 431 155 146 a-j-e.com.au
Lavish prints, luxurious fabrics and a wild, elegant bohemian aesthetic make luxury women’s, men’s and kids’ wear brand Camilla one that neatly encapsulates a premium Australian aesthetic.
Founded by Camilla Franks 15 years ago in Watsons Bay, Sydney, the print driven brand is known for its womenswear designs, specifically eye-catching kimonos and elevated resortwear. It also creates a small range of men’s and children’s styles, which feature similar prints to the womenswear offer.
The brand’s prints draw on Franks’ travels and photography, and the Australian landscape is a key influence. The Great Barrier Reef, the Outback and tropical rainforest imagery are all worked into the collection in digital printing, embroidery or hand-painted prints.
The brand has recorded strong growth over the past three years: total sales were up 57%, online sales by 183% and wholesale by 45%. It has 256 stockists in 44 countries, and is already stocked by Harrods and Matchesfashion in the UK.
Having launched its direct-to-consumer website in the UK in 2018, the UK now accounts for 50% of all European sales. The brand is looking to build on this demand and is newly working with fashion agency Polly King for spring 20, to increase its UK wholesale footprint.
Retail prices range from £195 for a T-shirt to £1,940 for a coat. 020 3747 9530 uk.camilla.com
Tailoring and minimalism are the hallmarks of Sydney-based designer Anna Quan, representing a more pared-back, sophisticated aesthetic than typically associated with Australian labels, such as the romantic, boho stylings of Zimmermann.
The elegant aesthetic of the brand stems from founder Anna Hoang’s focus on subtle detail and fit. Functionality and quality fabrications are also important considerations in designs.
Highlights from the autumn 19 collection include a utility midi shirt dress with button sides, as well as a square-neck, crinkled mini-dress with puffed sleeves and a shirred waistband.
The brand is stocked by Net-a-Porter in the UK, and by retailers including The Iconic and Myer in Australia.
Retail prices range from A$145 (£80) for a knitted T-shirt to A$1,075 (£598.65) for a long tweed coat. email@example.com annaquan.com