This November saw the Australian Fashion Council, our Board, Members and broader industry network come together at LCI Melbourne for the 2019 AFC AGM, and the first official introduction to the 2020 incoming CEO, Leila Naja Hibri. The evening saw an overview of AFC activities in 2019 from Co-Chair John Condilis, followed by a look to the global trends shaping our industry from current CEO Dave Giles-Kaye…
This November the Australian Fashion Council, our Board, Members and broader industry network came together at LCI Melbourne for the 2019 AFC AGM, and the first official introduction to the 2020 incoming CEO, Leila Naja Hibri. The evening saw an overview of AFC activities in 2019 from Co-Chair John Condilis, followed by a look to the global trends shaping our industry from current CEO Dave Giles-Kaye. Also announced were the AFC Board directors for 2020, with the addition of Jenny Cermak, Partner at McKinsey & Company.
Thanks to everyone who made it out for the night, and to support from LCI Melbourne, Handpicked Wines and Mountain Goat Beer.
The primary purpose of the AFC is to support the growth of the Australian fashion industry through the growth of organisations and the people who work within them. We identify the ‘Five Growth Pillars’ as the main levers for the Australian industry; design & innovation, best practice supply chains, nurturing business, ethics & sustainability, and building export capability. Every activity of the AFC is reflected back to these Five Growth Pillars. This keeps us focused to deliver value to our members and the industry at large.
This year we are in the process of establishing a number of Industry Steering Committees. These are board appointed groups made up of industry leaders with the purpose of keeping AFC activities focused and relevant. The Ethics and Sustainability committee is up and running with the Design and Innovation, Commercialisation and Education Committees in development.
The AFC Designers Abroad program, supported by The Woolmark Company and Creative Victoria, has focused on supporting Australian fashion labels overseas at New York and Paris fashion weeks and at home through our developing relationship with Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia, our local gateway to overseas markets. At each of these we hold education sessions and networking events with an emphasis on helping our businesses connect to global opportunities. Our strategy for the Asia Pacific markets is also evolving with upcoming workshops and opportunities with distributors in China through TMALL. This is a very exciting developing relationship.
The AFC seeks to take a leadership position in the Australian fashion industry in the acceptance of climate change and social problems that exist in our global industry and the urgent actions that need to be taken. Our CEO has spoken on this topic many times throughout the year and the AFC has actively supported the key organisations and events that have emerged in Australia to address it. Our Sustainability Portal continues to evolve as an industry resource for ethical and sustainability issues with many articles written specifically for publication on the platform.
Our relationships are also growing internationally in this area as we seek to be a part of global efforts and benchmarks. We are developing relationships with many organisations, including the UN Climate Agency, Ethical Clothing Australia and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, amongst many others.
Other collaborations have continued with VAMFF, Melbourne Fashion Week, MBFWA, BT Emerging Fashion Designer Award and the Australian Fashion Laureate. We have also delivered numerous education sessions across Australia that have been focused business growth. These have been delivered by local and international industry experts such as McKinsey & Co, Havas, Oracle, Lambert & Associates, Marque Lawyers and Philips Ormond Fitzpatrick, amongst many others.
A development this year has been the Victorian Government’s new policy of buying only Australian made uniforms and workwear, which has far reaching positive implications for the industry. The AFC is a key partner with the government in implementing this policy to maximise its long term impact on our industry.
There have also been projects around freight and logistics, fashion tech and a plan for modernising the TFIA Directory tool, as well as many round tables, workshops and seminars on a wide range of topics.
The AFC has been actively supporting Indigenous designers in our industry through various activities, principally in partnership with the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation and their annual Country to Couture fashion event in Darwin. There will be further developments in the next few years with the current focus on listening, through a number of round tables held across Australia.
We launched a new program at home called AFC Flagship. This provides Australian fashion labels with a premium retail space for a short period of time where they have the opportunity to showcase their brand in their own store. It is designed to help labels on their pathway to their own stores. There have been many of these activations in the last year in both Sydney and Melbourne with great learnings and results.
The AFC continues to focus on and develop the AFC Curated program. More than 45 emerging labels have now been through the program, with 50% coming from outside of Melbourne. This year Curated was presented by Vicinity Group, with many of our activations in Vicinity Centres and promoted through their extensive marketing channels. We have also received support from the City of Sydney to develop the program further there, which has seen more Sydney based pop-ups, workshops and labels in this national program.
The industry is extensive and diverse and in need now, more than ever, of an effective industry body. The Five Industry Growth Pillars drive all of our activities ensuring we remain focused on business and industry needs. We will all grow together, so it is critical that we have an industry that has broad strength and that is good at working together.