Fashion Business

Looking Back... AFC in 2018

Looking Back... AFC in 2018

This November saw our first Annual General Meeting as the Australian Fashion Council since the earlier merging of the two former entities… and what a long way our organisation has come! A big thank you to all who have been part of this journey, and to those who made it along to the AGM held in Sydney, where we heard from our AFC Board Co-Chairs Edwina McCann and John Condilis, Board Director Simon Stewart, and our CEO Dave Giles-Kaye. Now that we are at the end of the year, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of the highlights from 2018, and take a look at what projects are on the AFC horizon…

Meet | Helena Dong

Meet | Helena Dong

This month we catch up with Helena Dong, this year’s winner of the MFW Student Award! The RMIT Fashion Graduate’s collection blew us away, merging tailored design componants with a digital ‘choose your own adventure’ twist…

AFC at Paris Fashion Week 2018

AFC at Paris Fashion Week 2018

Early in October, on the last day of Paris Fashion Week 2018, a diverse group from the Australian and French fashion industries collected at the Australian Embassy in Paris, generously hosted by Ambassador Brendan Berne.

Start Your Fashion Business!

Start Your Fashion Business!

Planning, launching and scaling a fashion business can be consuming, confusing and expensive. Coming up with an idea is the easy part, but building a business involves a strategy, a plan, and great connections. Fashion Equipped was founded with a single objective in mind – to expose the ‘blind spots’ business owners experience when starting their own fashion business.

SOURCING EXPO | JOIN AFC AT STAND E39

SOURCING EXPO | JOIN AFC AT STAND E39

IT'S BACK! Returning to Melbourne this November 20-22 2018, the International Sourcing Expo brings the world to you. The Australian Fashion Council will be in amongst the action at Stand E39!

The Melbourne Fashion Showcase | HK BoDW 2018

The Melbourne Fashion Showcase | HK BoDW 2018

The largest-ever international presentation of Victorian fashion is set to showcase in Hong Kong this December as part of Hong Kong Business of Design Week (HK BoDW), Asia’s premier design event! Running from the 1st-9th, the ‘Melbourne Fashion Showcase’ will see over 50 Victorian designers across three exhibitions and two showcases.

Alvanon's 'The State of Skills in the Apparel Industry' 2018 Report

Alvanon's 'The State of Skills in the Apparel Industry' 2018 Report

Alvanon’s global survey highlights an unprecedented skills crisis in the fashion industry, with 62% of respondents struggling to fill skilled roles. The report data reveals a ‘war for talent’ across the supply chain, with big fashion retailers, brands, manufacturers and vendors, facing a shortage of workers with key, specialised skills… Do you agree?

Think – Collaborate – Create | Melbourne’s BoDW HK Program Revealed 

Think – Collaborate – Create | Melbourne’s BoDW HK Program Revealed 

The largest-ever international presentation of Victorian design will be showcased at Asia’s premier design event, Hong Kong Business of Design Week (BODW) this December 2018 and we, the Australian Fashion Council, are thrilled to be a part of it!

Financing Your International Growth

Financing Your International Growth

Charith Amarasinghe, Associate Director Business Development at Efic, is no stranger to helping Australian fashion businesses get the finance support they need to take on international growth. Working closely with Australian industry leaders he’s seen what it takes to become an international success.

4 Tips to Grow Your International Business...

4 Tips to Grow Your International Business...

In line with their recently launched free eBook, Efic, Australia’s export credit agency, outlines 4 tips to help your business take on the world.

Meet | Hills & West

AFC MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

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MEET | HILLS & WEST

Aisha Hillary-Morgan

Founder & Creative Director

This week we caught up with Aisha Hillary-Morgan, Founder and Creative Director of luxury accessories brand Hills & West…

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TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR OWN INDUSTRY BACKGROUND AND WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO ‘FASHION’?

In a few words; branding, marketing, tech, startups, fashion and now a fabulous combination of them all. I have been lucky to have a pretty colourful background in a diverse range of industries and countries, working for some pioneering people and companies. In October of 2014, I decided to change track from my 20 or so years working for other people and set up on my own. This was the beginning of Hills & West, my all Australian-made, lifestyle bag and accessory label.

My love for fashion started at a very young age, always doing dress ups and styling my friends. It was always a passion on the side while I build my career in marketing and tech.  However every year, to temper my creative hunger and to help me to continue to grow, I would always try and learn a new skill. I have been doing this for as long as I can remember, and activities have included; meditation, DJing, fashion drawing, Dragon Boat racing and French. In 2014 I decided I would gift myself a luxury handbag-making course in Milan, between my Singapore and London work trips. I was instantly hooked. I loved the artisan techniques, their passion, the history and craftsmanship and all I wanted to do was come back home and make Australian luxury pieces, at attainable prices. My new path had been carved.

After I resigned from my global role in tech, people kept asking if I was scared and nervous to go into the unknown. I had not really thought about nerves as I was more of a jump first and think later kind of person. I had created and grown so many businesses for other people, so why not do it for myself. I knew that I had the passion, confidence and support network to help me through any challenge. This has been the dream and is what drives me everyday.

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HOW DID HILLS & WEST COME TO BE? WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE BRAND?

I drew inspiration from my experience as a frequent flyer for work. I always had to go from the plane to the boardroom, to dinner, to the plane again… and many variations of the same dance. My ‘seedling’ vision for Hills & West was to create a product for professional women that were sophisticated, stylish, versatile and practical.

Today, Hills & West is a minimal accessory brand that aspires to declutter and simplify, always of the highest quality and with a versatile twist. The collections are catered to the busy lifestyles of the modern man and woman and are available online, and in collaboration with other designers and boutiques, at an accessible price point for quality handmade pieces in Australia.

As I build on my collections, I am inspired by my customers who always say, wouldn’t it be great if Hills & West did a…. this is where the shopper, weekender and my cowhide pillows came from. Always looking at how can I simplify and beautify our everyday.

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WHAT DREW YOU TO LEATHER & ACCESSORIES? TELL US ABOUT YOUR DESIGN AND MANUFACTURING PROCESS…

I have to start with the fact that I have been a vegetarian since I was 16 years old. People are always a little shocked when I say that however I have always been supportive of sustainable fashion and against fast fashion and wastage. I am however a huge lover of clothing, bags and accessories. So I always think about how can I be as sustainable as possible and make pieces that are durable, timeless and transeasonal, with an as ethical production process as possible. I think of my pieces more as functional, beautiful pieces that people are proud to wear, share the story behind the piece and keep them for a longtime.

When I was researching where to learn the art of handbag craftsmanship, Arsutoria kept popping up. Arsutoria is an established and renowned school specialising in design courses for leather makers of shoes and bags. I was toying between NY and Milan, and I am so glad that my work at the time took me to Europe at the perfect time.

The course set the foundations and taught me a lot about the traditional techniques in Italy. It gave me such an appreciation for the craft of making bags and this passion for handmade traditional techniques is a big factor when finding artisans to work with in Australia. With Australian made products, there is an element of quality care and craftsmanship that cannot be beaten. I love to be hands on in the making process and often spend hours looking at different hides and materials for my pieces. Curiosity fosters creativity; I love brainstorming ideas and am often getting input of others. Whether they’re my husband, friends, other Australian designers, artisans or my teacher from Milan, who I keep in touch with regularly for guidance.

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THERE IS THE COMMON THOUGHT THAT THE INDUSTRY IS ‘DEAD’ IN AUSTRALIA… WHY WAS AUSTRALIAN MADE AN IMPORTANT FACTOR FOR YOU? HOW HAVE YOU FOUND THE PROCESS OF MAKING LOCALLY AND WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND TO BE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES/ OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOU IN THIS SPACE?

When starting Hills & West, it was really important to me to do things locally. With only 9% of fashion being Australian made, I wanted to help reinvigorate this craft locally and proudly introduce Hills & West as handmade in Australia, to the rest of the world. We have the ability to create the highest quality pieces here, ethically and sustainably, so why not try. I am an avid supporter of buying local and homegrown products, and I wanted to innovatively craft pieces with local artisans intertwining my learnings from bag making in Italy and my brand building experience from my previous life.

There are of course challenges with crafting in Australia. Labour is more costly and materials not produced in Australia that need to be imported have a heft price tag (especially when you are sourcing sustainable).

Also, I wanted to connect directly to customers online, minimising markups through wholesale, however the price point can be challenging as people can’t touch, smell and see the pieces. Especially when you are funding a brand on your own and competing with luxury brands with huge budgets and awareness.

I am fortunate that I can do a lot of my creative, marketing and digital work on my own. I am also so lucky I have a wonderful group of Hills & West lovers and ambassadors who continuously spruik my pieces and give me lots of wonderful referrals.

Collaborations have also been a wonderful part of Hills & West’s growth. By working with other Australian emerging designers, we have been able to get in front of a lot more people with an appreciation for independent and Australian made.

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WHAT DOES ‘AUSTRALIAN’ FASHION/STYLE/DESIGN MEAN TO YOU?

Being Australian made celebrates so many things that are truly wonderful and unique about Australia. We are unique, love self expression, battlers and are incredibly resourceful. We may be small in population but are vocal in our ideals and creativity.

Australian fashion/design has already made a big impact globally and I am super proud to be Australian made and supporting local artisans in a profession that has been slowing down in Australia.

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RECOMMEND 5! WHO/WHAT/WHERE ARE YOUR LOCAL TEXTILE & FASHION GO TO’S?

1. Lustr fabulous fashion initiative, started by founders Angela, Lilliana and Jeremy, supporting independent designers. The give emerging designers a voice and a way to connect with locally inspired and motivated customers. You can read my interview with them here.

2. 6 on 771/2 George I had to share this, my latest collaboration with five wonderful Australian labels in The Rocks including Cedar & Onyx (classic luxury for women of all sizes), Everyday Cashmere (cashmere, silk, and cashmere essentials), Boehm Intimates (lingerie of delicate lace and luxe), Extraordinary Ordinary Day (the holy grail of handmade shoes) and Susan Driver (handmade jewellery). If you are interested check it out until September 16.

3. Semipermanent founded by fellow Sydney sider Murray Bell and Andrew Johnstone in 2003 is a global creative and design-thinking platform. Over the last 15 years, they have established a community of over 400,000 people and a network of over 800 speakers and artists, across our operation around the globe. I go here to be inspired, challenged and boost my creative juices.

4. Some of my fave home grown labels include that I love to wear and watch in the order they come to mind; Manning Cartel, Dion Lee, Michael Lo Sordo, Alice McCall, Sir the Label, Christopher Esber, Nice Martin, macgraw, Anna Quan, Camilla and Marc, and the list goes on….

5. Lastly but not less importantly Australian Fashion Council of course for fashion news, tips, resources, events and brining emerging designers to the forefront.

Bonus, it’s not local but it is a fantastic resource for what is going on in fashion globally. Great interviews, resources and insights - Business of Fashion.

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WANT MORE ?

Drop by their 6 on 771/2 George pop-up before it closes on Sunday 16th September!

Follow the Hills & West story on Instagram at @hillsandwest, on Facebook as @hillsandwest and on Twitter as @hillsandwest! You can also catch them on YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Say hello to Aisha at aisha@hillsandwest.com.


BT Emerging Fashion Designer Awards 2019 | Entries Open

BT Emerging Fashion Designer Awards 2019 | Entries Open

Entries are now open for the 2019 BT Emerging Fashion Designer Award. The prestigious award aims to identify and showcase Australia’s most promising emerging designers.

TUXEDO | For Business and Technology in Fashion

TUXEDO | For Business and Technology in Fashion

The debut of Tuxedo Melbourne for business and technology in fashion is set to deliver real and raw case studies of disruption in the industry.

The purpose behind Tuxedo is to communicate innovative stories to an audience of retailers, technologists and creatives, kickstarting a movement for innovation amongst the community.

In 2016, the Australian fashion industry was valued at 28.5billion dollars. This valuation is increasing year-on-year, the hand of the retailer is being forced by customers to become more relevant and technology-forward.

Through these conversations, our aim is to help fashion business owners navigate their way into an innovative mindset, and in turn deliver exceptional experiences for their shoppers.

AFC Curated | Back at MFW this September!

AFC Curated | Back at MFW this September!

18 AUSTRALIAN DESIGNERS. 8 DAYS. Thanks to Melbourne Fashion Week (MFW), you can shop 18 Australian fashion labels from across the country, under the one roof for 8 days this September, marking the biggest AFC Curated event yet!

Meet | NJAL

Meet | NJAL

Not Just a Label (NJAL) is the world’s leading designer platform for showcasing and nurturing today’s pioneers in contemporary fashion.  Representing over 30,000 designers from more than 150 countries, NJAL reflects the modern face of fashion and supports thriving artists also outside of the major fashion capitals, giving designers a platform to connect with a global audience and showcase their designs from anywhere in the world… We catch up with their Creative Community Curator, Carly Vidal Wallace!

Meet | Nicki Colls

Meet | Nicki Colls

Ahead of the upcoming Festival of Natural Dyes, we caught up with Fibreshed Melbourne co-founder Nicki Colls, to talk through festival highlights and her work in building networks across our local supply chain.

Lane Crawford | Winners Announced!

Lane Crawford | Winners Announced!

Lane Crawford, Asia’s iconic luxury department store, have proudly announced Tom Fereday Design as the winner of their Creative Call Out, alongside 12 other runner-ups, hand selected by a panel of judges in Sydney earlier this May.

Meet | Flaunter

Meet | Flaunter

This week we caught up with AFC Member Gaby Howard, CEO and Founder of Flaunter, the Sydney based dial PR platform connecting brands with some of the best storytellers around the world...