OP-ED: World Acquiring Taste for Australian Fashion
Thursday 10 June 2021, The Examiner
Australian Fashion Week 2021 which ran from May 31 to June 4 this year is a key event on the global fashion calendar, having been on hiatus since 2019.
Having attended some local fashion parades it was entertaining to sign up for free online and watch AFW shows as they were livestreamed, and catch up on the ones I had missed, which
are still available.
The 2021 event provided a much-needed outlet for the artists and designers whose crafts and livelihoods had been so significantly affected by coronavirus.
Not being a fashionista, I prefer clothes that I "like" as opposed to what is "in".
I still have some outfits from as far back as the '70s which can pose challenges, particularly when I choose something from my wardrobe to wear to a certain occasion, that has been there for some time, and it no longer fits.
However, the AFW show was an eye-opener.
Don't get me wrong as the vast majority of pieces you see during Australian Fashion Week are not designed to be just bought and worn to work, or even to a special occasion.
I soon realised that most of the pieces you see during the show are designed as art and like any other artistic medium, they need to be understood as such.
Art is for everyone and fashion and design are just as much forms of art as any other medium.
Australia punches far above its weight in fashion and design.
We have so much to offer on the global stage by virtue of our country's inherent beauty and diversity.
Australia is unlike anywhere else in the world and that shines through.
It isn't just the likes of Gemma Ward and Alex Perry that make Australia a global fashion threat.
It's thanks to the ever-expanding teams of designers of all backgrounds, whose artistic expression truly reflects the diversity of our country.
Emphasising the uniquely Australian connection between people and place, AFW 2021 started with, what Kathryn Madden at Marie Claire called, "an emotionally-charged Welcome to Country, featuring the soulful sounds and traditional dancers from Muggera Cultural Enterprise... the first of its kind in AFW's 25-year history".
During the week, this was followed by a runway showcase featuring the collections of leading First Nations designers Indii, Kirrikin, Liandra Swim, MAARA Collective, Native Swimwear and Ngali.
It's not just the land that makes Australia a unique global fashion player, but the people who call this place home.
Many different people, people with diverse body sizes and types and designers with different stories to tell are now getting space to tell their stories.
Europe is no longer the fashion centre of the universe.
But more to the point is the rise of fashion and design with a conscience.
This is where space is being rightfully taken by designers who are younger, have more diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds and develop captivating stories that reflect the societies and communities from which they come.
They often utilise more ethically-sourced materials, such as vegan leather, dyes, inks and cosmetics, ethically-made fabrics and the recycling and up-cycling of existing materials.
The established paths that designers once took are now being overlooked in favour of making one's own way in the fashion world.
The rise of social media and the extended reach this provides to observers and customers give individual designers the power to develop their own brands and narratives
Locally we have had many designers over the years and one of my favourite pant suits (foolishly sent off to a charity shop in a clean-out mode) was by our own Sharee Marshall.
We also have Louise Scott a talented designer and seamstress who in 2003 opened her own store in Launceston providing beautiful gowns.
It is pleasing to see that young people are also taking on the challenge of fashion and design, and Launceston's Megan Rose Fettke a young talented designer and seamstress is such a person.
On Megan's social media she remarks that in a two-year period she made and sold over 400 products in among working at school and studying.
Another person with a flair for fashion, is Frances Graham.
Frances organises fashion parades of a different kind for charity, with second-hand clothes, most sourced from op shops, and stored in what can only be a very large room at her home.
These are always well attended and give a glimpse of yesteryear with outfits that are often still stylish today.
I never think of myself as particularly artistic, or an arty person, but everyone sees art differently whether it is fashion, painting, the theatre, music, poetry and the list goes on.
It has been a very difficult year for everyone, including artists of all natures, but people with passion and drive are what keeps our city great and we must support them.
Rosemary Armitage, independent member for Launceston