In Review | AFC Finance & Business Plans Seminar

In Review | AFC Finance & Business Plans Seminar

Words: Alexandra Briscoe

The Business Planning and Finance Seminar took place in July at the AMP Capital Towers overlooking a beautiful morning. With speakers Gabrielle Manning, Lizzie Renkert, Jim Softis and Alicia Kemp from AMP Capital facilitating the event, the knowledge and experience was well rounded and covered a lot of ground.

Gabrielle Manning of Manning Cartell shared with the audience the experience which comes from running a successful fashion business in Australia (and soon to launch in the US) for twelve years. Lizzie Renkert comes from the very different approach of an emerging business of three years in a very different retail climate. The two compared the differences between operating their businesses and their approach to business planning and financing in Australia and the massive change the internet and shopping online has made to running a fashion business. Financial consultant Jim Softsis of Crowe Horwarth gave the valuable outside perspective on fashion financing and his experience in working with Australian fashion businesses  in an international financial consultancy firm.

Lizzie Renkert spoke about understanding the importance of experience - you can’t have enough of it. She and her sister, Georgie both worked different industries before starting their own label We Are Kindred. Renkert reminded the audience to remember that the biggest weakness is not acknowledging your own weaknesses and being too proud - or too unaware - to seek help from professionals.

Says Manning: “You can never have too much experience”. Running your own business is one of the biggest undertakings one will ever go through and it doesn’t get easier faster. It’s a full time job, round the clock career and having a business plan is essential. Jim Softsis advised  what a financial consultant is looking for in a business, potential or otherwise. A business plan is the number one way to assess the best way to approach financing. Do you get a loan, an investor or do you self fund? Sitting down and dedicating the time to getting the planning right saves you time and money (and heartache) in the long run. The time old adage ‘measure twice, cut once’ applies to fashion in more way than one.

The three agree retailing has changed in the last decade. Traditional retailing is already a term used to refer to the of bricks-and-mortar retailing as the main delivery to customer method, and online sales are a disjointed, unconnected entity of the business. Traditional retail is becoming a marketing cost to many savvy business operators. Most people prefer to shop online, especially those of the under thirty age bracket, however the value of a face-to-face and bricks-and-mortar presence can’t be undervalued.

Manning spoke of how important retail locations have been for growth in the business and choosing the right location is everything. Getting the balance of foot traffic,demographic and the surrounding retailers. Manning Cartell has always understood the importance of being able to interact directly with their customers while We Are Kindred operates on a very different model. Predominantly an online label, they have only recently dipped their toe into the world of bricks-and-mortar retailing with a pop-up location. Renkert acknowledges they may not get the sales directly from the pop-up store to think it was a profitable location, but it has helped build brand loyalty, with their online sales soaring.

Knowing which method of retailing suits your business is part instinct and part planning. Jim Softsis advised instinct plays an important role of business planning, knowing your product and knowing your customer are the best ways to succeed and has seen first hand fashion businesses go under because the planning just wasn’t there to support the business. He points out that it’s much easier to get your plan right in the beginning then to try and go back and change everything later once the business is up and running. The same way it’s better to invest in a good pair of shoes you know will last you the distance, it’s better to get your system and plan right in the beginning. Invest now for payoff later.

Softsis reminds everyone before they leave: “Don’t forget why you got into fashion. If you think you have the right product and the right business model start getting out there and getting that advice to get you off the ground. Talk to everyone you can.”

TIPS: Invest now, reap rewards later! Investing in good systems from the beginning, whether that’s your distribution method or your computer operating system, take the time and money to get it right from the beginning.

Ask for advice in and out of the fashion industry. Financial consultants can offer invaluable advice to emerging designers and budding businesses, but so can other small business owners and the head pattern maker from a big brand. Always be on the lookout for ways to learn, and people to learn from.

Spend time in planning out your business plan. It may take months or even a year. There’s no right or wrong way or time to spend on your plan.

Getting the right team is as important as having a business plan. Knowing you can trust people to do it well and do it right is one of the most important parts of a business, and learning how to let go and delegate is essential.

BT Emerging Designer Awards 2017 Finalists

BT Financial, along with the Australian Fashion Chamber, are pleased to announce the the finalists for the 2017 BT Emerging Designer Award as Kacey Devlin, We Are Kindred and Celeste Tesoreiro, with the winner to be announced at the BT Runway for Success Event on the 27th of April. All three finalists will showcase their collections alongside established Australian designers including Carla Zampatti, Dion Lee, Ginger & Smart, Bianca Spender, Manning Cartell, Camilla & Marc, Rachel Gilbert and Gary Bigeni.

2017 marks the fifth year for the BT Emerging Designer Awards with this year’s recipient following in the footsteps of previous winners such as Macgraw (2016), Emma Mulholland (2015), Michael Lo Sordo (2014) and Christopher Esber (2013).

The winner will receive a prize valued at over $70,000 including a cash grant and mentoring provided by the Australian Fashion Chamber. The prize includes:

  • A $10,000 (including GST) cash grant from BT
  • The services of a BT financial planner for two years
  • Accounting and business advisory services for two years provided by Bentleys NSW
  • Two return premium economy class flights to New York provided by Qantas Airways
  • A one year subscription to new media content business, Flaunter
  • Two mentoring sessions with two fashion industry icons provided by Australian Fashion Chamber
  • A Jeroboam of Champagne Taittinger Brut Reserve & up to $4,500 of Champagne Taittinger products for the winner to use at their post awards events from Champagne Taittinger & McWilliam’s Wines
  • TONI&GUY Australia will proudly sponsor your hairdressing needs including:
    • access to their National Artistic Team for two major fashion events
    • two look book or editorial shoots
    • three months-worth of hairdressing at TONI&GUY’s Head Office

Meet the finalists:

Kacey Devlin

Kacey Devlin was awarded the National Designer Award in late February 2017, after a near-win as a finalist the previous year, and now takes home a spot as a BT Emerging Fashion Designer Award finalist. Her brand Kacey Devlin launched in 2014 with her first collection 1: Undone, starting a theme for her work to follow. Wrapped in asymmetrical pieces, soft tailoring and pleating, the collection explores how abstract and conceptual ideas of fashion’s relationship with form. From her base in North Sydney, Devlin is a designer in a new wave of sustainably conscious designs using locally sourced fibres and a production process based in the area.

We Are Kindred

Established in 2014, sister duo Lizzie and Georgie Renkert bring a strong industry background to their young label We Are Kindred with a focus on a modern woman; unique, striking and comfortable. A bohemian approach to design brings forward soft shapes and memorable prints. We Are Kindred believe in an ethical approach to fashion and now, as under the ‘Seed The Change’ section of their website, the label plants one tree for every product sold to support agriculture dependant communities and offset global carbon emissions.

Celeste Tesoreiro

Celeste Tesoreiro, a unique combination of comfort and luxury, brings her unique approach to fashion and jewellery design. The fabrications of her collections all appear rich, well worn and hard-wearing; strongly inspired by the Australian aesthetic. Her core values drive her brand; handcrafted, sustainable, local, fair, minimal waste, vegan, gender equality and transparency. Since her Winter 2016 collection she has produced locally in Sydney, sourcing organic cotton and 100% Australian merino wool. After starting the label in 2014, she is now stocked in over 20 retailers in Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

Designers Abroad 2017: New York & Paris

The AFC will be taking a selection of designers to NYC during Resort season in June and for Paris S/S 2018 during the September 28 – October 5, 2017 period. At least one position will be allocated to an emerging designer. The AFC is proud to foster and encourage Australian design talent and to help our best designers enhance their exporting capabilities. To apply for either Paris or New York please fill out the application form (PDF or Word), specifying whether which season you're applying for (note you can only apply for one) and return to by April 4, 2017.

The Australian Fashion Chamber’s Designers Abroad program was established in 2015 with the goal of promoting the Australian fashion industry by identifying exceptional fashion design talent and by assisting this talent in key international markets. The AFC’s objective is to expose designers to key international media and buyers for the purposes of growing their business globally. The AFC will provide advice, mentoring and financial support to sell their collection in a showroom space in Paris.


Australian Fashion Foundation - 2015 Scholarship Winners

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 1.25.13 pm UTS Sydney based womenswear design graduate Panayota Theodore and RMIT Melbourne based menswear designer Vlad Kenevsky were each awarded $20,000 and a six month internship in the US or Europe as the joint winners of the AUSFF internship grant, to pursue their talent on an international scale.

"Panayota and Vlad both demonstrated a fresh and multi dimensional approach to fashion," said AUSFF co-founder Malcolm Carfrae. "Their submissions showed variety, innovation and both were excellent self marketers."

Judges present included AUSFF founder Malcolm Carfrae (Global Head of Communications, Public Relations and Media at Ralph Lauren); fashion stylist and icon Brana Wolf; Fashion consultant and former Vogue editor Nancy Pilcher; Editor of Harper's Bazaar, Kellie Hush; Fashion designer Dion Lee; blogger and stylist Romy Frydman;'s Buying Director, Justin O'Shea; Blogger, photographer and model Margaret Zhang; The Woolmark Company's Melissa Grace and Kara Hurry, Head of Communications, RM Williams.

The cocktail party to announce the winners was held at the Hotel Centennial, Woollahra, Sydney in partnership with The Woolmark Company. Also among present were: Edwina McCann, Christine Centenera, Alison Veness, Zac and Jordan Stenmark, Nicky and Simone Zimmermann, Kym Ellery, Camilla Freeman Topper and Marc Freeman and Stuart McCullough, CEO of Australian Wool Innovation, parent company of The Woolmark Company.

"Woolmark are pleased to continue the successful partnership with AUSFF, explained Stuart McCullough of The Woolmark Company. "Their objectives align with our own and we believe in supporting the future leaders of our creative industries and tapping into a vast network of Australian talent that is thriving across the globe."

Applications Open for BT Emerging Designer Awards 2016

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The BT Emerging Designer Awards have officially opened for applications for 2016. This would be an exciting and career-propelling opportunity for any promising fashion design talent, especially those who aspire to raise their businesses to the next level.

Three fashion labels will be shortlisted as finalists for the coveted award and will have the opportunity to showcase their designs at BT Runway for Success alongside some of Australia's most iconic fashion designers.

Past winners include Emma Mulholland, Michael Lo Sordo and Christopher Esber.

The 2016 Prize has grown and now includes:

  • A $10,000 cash grant from BT
  • The services of a BT financial planner for two years
  • Two return economy class flights to Los Angeles from Virgin Australia to further their fashion ambitions
  • Backstage hair services for one major event and two look books, and editorial support for 12 months by Toni & Guy
  • A one year subscription for full photo sharing and sample tracking services on new platform Flaunter
  • Two mentoring sessions with two fashion industry icons provided by the Australian Fashion Chamber

Applications are open now and close on 31 January 2016. For more information and to apply follow this link:

Talking Shop: The Modern Customer Journey

Last week, AMP Capital Shopping Centres, in partnership with the AFC, presented another retailer engagement session with the central focus around understanding customers in the digital era. Thank you to wonderful host Jackie Frank and the fascinating speakers, Alistair Leathwood (Executive Director at TNS Global), Ana Maria Escobar (Creative Director at OROTON), Alex Macoun (Head of Media at Quantium) and Kate Box (Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook).

Photography by Hausmann Group.


The Australian Fashion Chamber Chair, Edwina McCann signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) alongside the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, at a joint announcement, held at the University of Technology, Sydney. The MoU between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Australian Fashion Chamber (AFC) demonstrates the Government is committed to working closely with the industry to ensure that it continues to drive economic growth and to reinforce Australia as being a world-class innovative and creative nation, which will, in turn, open doors to further trade and investment.

Australia has world-class fashion expertise, creative talent and high quality primary resources. The Australian fashion industry makes a significant contribution to Australia’s economy—around $12 billion annually—and employs approximately 220,000 people.

Through this MoU, DFAT and the Australian Fashion Chamber will work together to further strengthen, promote and develop Australian fashion and design. Together we will enhance global recognition of the Australian fashion industry, leverage business development, trade and investment opportunities, and achieve effective and sustainable development outcomes in the Indo-Pacific Region.

The AFC is the peak body for fashion designers and works to strengthen, protect and nurture the originality, influence and success of Australian fashion, both domestically and globally. The MoU signing marks the start of the official relationship between the Australian Government and the AFC, which will promote the Australian fashion industry in line with Australia’s economic diplomacy agenda.

“The agreement will help to enhancing global recognition of Australian fashion and further the AFC’s ambition to strengthen, promote and develop Australian fashion and design,” said AFC Chair Edwina McCann.

Through the MoU, DFAT and the Australian Fashion Chamber will work together to maximise the economic, cultural and development potential of Australian fashion.

AFC General Manager, Courtney Miller said “We are privileged to have the strong support of the Australian Government and to be able to nurture our future fashion leaders while leveraging business development, trade and investment opportunities.”

Members of the Australian fashion industry, along with AFC members, attended the MoU signing. Australian designers were showcased by four dancers from the Sydney Dance Company, costumed by Toni Maticevski, Dion Lee, Akira and Josh Goot, as well as models wearing macgraw, Aje, Bianca Spender and By Johnny. The AFC is possible thanks to the ongoing support provided by AMP Capital Shopping Centres, The Woolmark Company, Toni & Guy, MAC Cosmetics, Australian Reliance and Qantas, all companies recognising the importance of Australian fashion and the strong potential of Australian designers. We were also lucky to have Cape Grim as an event sponsor serving up the purest water in the world.


Following our successful and insightful Ethical Fashion Seminar late last month we were encouraged to think more about our impact on the industry and how we could improve. In the interest of ensuring Australian designers stay on the right side of law, Marque Lawyers have put together a fascinating handbook for the seminar on Australian laws as they apply to the fashion industry and the creatives who work within it. The handbook covers a wide range of important topics such as protecting your intellectual property and writing contracts to handling your social media and the tricks around celebrity endorsements. Have a read of the handbook and keep it for future reference: Fashion Law Handbook


In conjunction with Mercedes-Benz fashion festival Brisbane The Australian Fashion Chamber is holding a Q&A session surrounded around the theme of branding. On Monday the 24th Edwina McCann, Chair of the Australian Fashion Chamber and Editor in Chief at Vogue Australia, will host an insightful panel discussion.  She will share the stage with some of Australia's top brand leaders including Aje’s Adrian Norris and Edwina Robinson, Amanda Shadforth from Oracle Fox and the creative director of Oroton Ana Escobar.

They will take us through an inspirational session on branding as well as a snapshot into the Australian Fashion industry.

This event is now sold out but a video feed will be posted on our website after the panel for those who missed out on a seat.


The Australian Fashion Chamber is proud to announce the designers selected for Australian Designers Abroad, a four-day working showroom for international buyers and media to be hosted as part of Pairs Spring Summer 16 ready-to-wear Fashion Week. Congratulations to Bassike, Romance Was Born, Camilla and Marc, Strateas.Carlucci, Michael Lo Sordo, Ginger & Smart and Christopher Esber. This diverse lineup consists of both established and emerging Australian designers and demonstrates a broad range of aesthetics.

Selected by a panel of industry professionals including AFC Deputy Chair and Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s BAZAAR Kellie Hush, designer Carla Zampatti and founder of Sass and Bide, Sarah-Jane Clarke. Representing the finest of Australian fashion, the designers were chosen based on their industry skill, strength of their current seasonal collection and potential success in the international market.

"The Australian Fashion Chamber is proud to foster and encourage Australian design talent. Initiatives such as these provide designers with the support and global stage to showcase their designs. It also exposes the Australian fashion industry as a whole to the international fashion community," said Kellie Hush.

The Australian Fashion Chamber will work collaboratively with designers through a mentorship program in the lead-up to the event to ensure that designers are well-prepared to meet the demands of competing in a global marketplace.

Our founding chairwoman Edwina McCann believes, the different profiles and aesthetics of each label will work to everyone’s advantage. Those with existing international stockists will attract buyers who already know them, and who will then discover another group of designers under the one roof, “This is an incredible export opportunity for these designers and has the potential to help expand their businesses globally”.

The showroom will take place at the centrally-located Place des Vosges during Paris Fashion Week, an event regarded as one of the most prestigious stages for ready-to-wear collections. For many designers, the opportunity to showcase their designs in Paris during this key period in the fashion calendar expands the reach of their business to a level that moves beyond the opportunities available in the local market.

We wish all the designers luck in the busy lead up to the showcase and can’t wait to show Pairs some of what the Australian fashion industry is made of.


Influential fashion industry guests gathered on Wednesday 11th of June to hear Jill Dumain, Environmental Director at Patagonia share their story of major transition from conventional cotton to organic cotton at an industry symposium series, the Bsessions.
With guests from TOMS, David Jones, Pacific Brands, Aje, Spell Design, Kit X, General Pants, ByJohnny, Apparel Group, FBI Fashion College, Haryono Setiadi and TopShop to name a few, the evening challenged the use of conventional cotton within the paradigm of the local apparel industry by sharing Patagonia’s story of transition.
The event was presented by Patagonia, supported by The Australian Fashion Chamber and developed to inspire inter-industry collaboration and act as a catalyst for change. 
This is what they had to say.


More info on organic cotton

Textile Exchange-definitive expert organization around organic cotton

Global Organic Textile Standard-processing standards and traceability standards for organic cotton

Fair Trade USA-access to organic cotton growers, mills and sewing factories

Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Coop-distributor of organic cotton bales to spinners

Sustainable Apparel Coalition-more general sustainability issues in the apparel industry 

Organic Cotton Dinner with Patagonia

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="yes" overflow="visible"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"] Haryono Setiadi, Vogue Australia Editor Edwina McCann and designer Gary Bigeni.

Last Thursday evening, 11 June 2015, Patagonia presented an insightful talk on their story of transition from conventional cotton to organic cotton in an intimate industry event. The talk, supported by The Australian Fashion Chamber, was presented by Jill Dumain, Director of Environmental Strategy at Patagonia and opened by Edwina McCann who stressed the importance of an open conversation about organic cotton within Australian fashion.

As part of an industry symposium series titled the Newromantic Bsessions, the talk aimed to develop inter-industry collaboration and increase knowledge of utilising organic cotton within the industry, in order to inspire positive change within Australian fashion.

The talk informed industry leaders about the positive impacts of using organic cotton, which currently only represents 1% of the world’s cotton supply. Conventional cotton, on the other hand, accounts for 47% of the world’s textile needs despite its heavy reliance on environmentally damaging pesticides. Patagonia, who are at the forefront of the innovative organic cotton movement, urged guests to help make the future of cotton cleaner and greener.

More info on organic cotton

Textile Exchange-definitive expert organization around organic cotton

Global Organic Textile Standard-processing standards and traceability standards for organic cotton

Fair Trade USA-access to organic cotton growers, mills and sewing factories

Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Coop-distributor of organic cotton bales to spinners

Sustainable Apparel Coalition-more general sustainability issues in the apparel industry 





The Australian Fashion Chamber hosted a celebration last night, Monday 25 May 2015, at the AMP Building in Sydney’s CBD to mark the first year of the organisation and celebrate a dynamic year for the Australian fashion industry.

Guests included the Australian Fashion Chamber board, including Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Australia Edwina McCann; Deputy Chair and Editor of Harper’s BAZAAR Australia Kellie Hush, as well as Australian Fashion Chamber members including Camilla Freeman-Topper and Marc Freeman of Camilla and Marc, Dion Lee, Bianca Spender, Michael Lo Sordo and Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett of Romance Was Born.

Highlights from the evening included a performance from Jessica Mauboy and a model presentation featuring the designs of Australian Fashion Chamber members Romance Was Born and RACHELALEX, complemented by TONI&GUY hair and MAC makeup.

The first twelve months of the Australian Fashion Chamber has reached several key milestones including its first Designers Abroad initiative, hosted at the Australian Embassy in Paris, during Paris Fashion Week in February; training seminars in Sydney and Melbourne featuring keynote speaker Jean Paul Gaultier in October 2014; and a series of educational seminars held in conjunction with tertiary institutions across New South Wales and Queensland.

“The support that the Australian Fashion Chamber has received over its first year has solidified how necessary a representative body is for our industry”, said Australian Fashion Chamber Chairman Edwina McCann. “We are continuing to work with our government bodies, with industry organisations and with designers themselves to ensure that Australian fashion receives the support it needs to thrive on a local and international level”.

The event was also an opportunity for the Australian Fashion Chamber to celebrate its partnerships with key sponsors AMP Capital Shopping Centres, The Woolmark Company , MAC Cosmetics, Toni & Guy, Australian Reliance and Qantas. “We are incredibly proud of our partnership with the Australian Fashion Chamber; it is a way for us to support Australian designers and the future of our local fashion industry” said Bryan Hynes Managing Director of AMP Capital Shopping Centres.


For more information, interview requests or imagery please contact:

Nikki Andrews – CEO NAC Media Group T: +61 9357 3600

Ellyce Horan – Account Executive NAC Media Group T: +61 9357 3600


More Information about the Australian Fashion Chamber

The Australian Fashion Chamber is a representative body for Australian designers and the Australian fashion industry. After its launch of membership in July 2014, the members of the AFC represent the brightest design talent within the industry. The AFC has been structured under a constitution in which the board of directors will be elected by members at three-year intervals. The current board of directors have come together to volunteer their time as part of their passionate support of the industry, bringing varied skills and experience.

The board of directors, led by Edwina McCann, Chair of the AFC and Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Australia, and Kellie Hush, Deputy Chair of the AFC and Editor of Harper’s BAZAAR Australia include:


Glen Schlehuber, Managing Director - Oceania, Tiffany & Co. Justin Cudmore, Partner, Marque Lawyers Leanne Whitehouse, Managing Director, Whitehouse Institute of Design Malcolm Carfrae, Global Head of Communications, Public Relations and Media, Ralph Lauren International. Melissa Grace, General Manager – Marketing and Communications, The Woolmark Company

Alicia Kemp, Fashion Category Executive, AMP Capital Shopping Centres Alison Veness, Editor and Publisher, 10 Magazine

Anthony Kendal, Global Communications Director, Carla Zampatti AC, Executive Chairman, Carla Zampatti Pty Ltd

Karen Webster, Deputy Head of Fashion and Textiles, RMIT University Roy Green PhD, Dean of UTS Business School, University of Technology Sydney Siobhan McKenna, Managing Partner, Illyria

General Manager

Courtney Miller

The AFC would not be possible without the integral support of AMP Capital Shopping Centres, The Woolmark Company, MAC Cosmetics, Toni & Guy, The Australian Reliance and Qantas.

Instagram: @afashionchamber Hashtag: #AUSfacesFASHION