Why are there so many world class fashion designers in South Australia?
The upcoming Adelaide Fashion Festival is helping to build a design and fashion community in South Australia that is taking on the world.
Since becoming a major South Australian event in 2015, the Adelaide Fashion Festival has not only attracted bigger sponsors such as Mercedes Benz and Vogue but also helped launch local designers on to the international stage.
Festival director Chris Kontos said the festival was important to South Australia not only from the fashion element but also from a retail perspective and the growth of the industry.
“The industry has grown so much over the years and the fashion festival gives you a platform to grow,” Kontos said of the festival that will showcase 40 local designers at 10 runways shows from 17–21 October.
“Everyone strives to build and grow towards launching at the fashion week and I think what we do is educate them and take them on a journey.
“We are very much mentoring everyone the entire year until we get to those five days in October. So our jobs aren’t just those five days, it’s literally mentoring and building and ensuring that everyone is making the right decisions in their business from a fashion perspective.”
Kontos said in the 12 months since the last festival the number of full-time equivalent staff working with South Australian designers had grown by 21 per cent, while the number of stockists carrying South Australian brands had grown by 27 per cent.
“Instagram followers have grown by more than 20 per cent,” Kontos added.
Mim Harvey, who debuted her designs in New York this year, said developing a successful brand in Adelaide had become much easier.
“There’s not a lot we are missing out on. We have a lot of global brands here and it’s really shown in the last couple of years that we can as businesses come together in our own community and expand globally,” she said.
Harvey said she moved back to South Australia after five years in Melbourne because the state government supported SMEs well with business grants and the cost of living was lower than in other cities.
“Through Instagram and social media we are globally recognised now so we can put out something via an international blogger and receive their audiences and bring that back to South Australia via our online store,” Harvey said.
“With really great transport and export options in Adelaide it’s not hard to access global markets.”
Kontos said the festival, which includes a week of fashion events across the city before the runways shows, had many highlights but he tipped Paolo Sebastian and the unique location at a former military drill hall to wow the crowds.
“Paolo Sebastian runways are world class and this year with the amazing Adelaide Symphony Orchestra it will be breathtaking,” Kontos said.
“The grounds have become their own local event. The Torrens Parade Grounds is such a space that is built for fashion. Who would have thought that building would host runways but it’s beautifully made. In South Australia our architecture is everything.”