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Victoria Revealed as Australia’s $1 Billion Fashion Manufacturing Capital

“Victoria can be a global leader in advanced, sustainable manufacturing while boosting jobs and developing skills."

by Sarah McLean

27 March 2024

Last month, the AFC facilitated a thought-provoking panel discussion at the PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival. The objective was to share never before seen data insights and discuss the future trajectory of clothing manufacturing in Victoria.

Moderated by AFC Chair, Marianne Perkovic, the panel brought together a diverse array of industry experts spanning the clothing manufacturing value chain. This included Dr. Jenny Underwood, Associate Dean of Fashion and Textiles Technology at RMIT, Craig Heckenberg, Managing Director of Epson Australia, and Andrew Quinn, Director of ABMT Apparel.

For the first time, the Australian Fashion Council (AFC) in partnership with Epson Australia, commissioned RMIT to quantify the true value of the Victorian textile, clothing & footwear (TCF) manufacturing sector.

Due for release next month, the full report - ‘Moving the Needle: The State of Play of Victoria’s Textile, Clothing & Footwear Manufacturing Sector’ - revealed Victoria has the industry's most complete supply chain nationally. Initial research shows:

  • Victoria’s TCF manufacturing industry is valued at $960 million in economic value.
  • It employs 10,300 people, more than any other state.
  • Victoria’s TCF sector exports are valued at $318 million, $100 million more than its wine exports.
  • Victoria is best positioned to lead Australia’s transition into a circular and sustainable economy due to its most complete clothing ecosystem.

The data highlights the undervalued significance of the sector to the broader economy, exposing the complex nature of this evolving and transforming industry and how parts of it are hidden due to the current ABS classification system.

With its ecosystem of fibre, manufacturing, retail, and wholesale, alongside repair and second-hand retail, Victoria has the most complete clothing supply chain in Australia. Marianne Perkovic, Chair of the AFC, emphasised Victoria's unique opportunity to provide truly sustainable, high-quality products through a ‘farm to front row’ approach.

Beyond the Seams Panel and PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival

“Victoria can be a global leader in advanced, sustainable manufacturing while boosting jobs and developing skills in an industry that generates a huge $960 million. And this is only the beginning of what this industry can transform into, not only economically but environmentally, accelerating our just-transformation into a circular economy by 2030 and net zero by 2050.” – Marianne Perkovic, Chair of the Australian Fashion Council.

The report will also propose optimising microfactories, showcasing not only the sector's flexibility but also heralding a new era for sustainable production. Thanks to microfactory technology, the industry has seen a surge in small-scale, on-demand, and rapidly deployable product offerings, injecting a fresh burst of energy into the market.

AFC Chair, Marianne Perkovic, Dr. Jenny Underwood, Associate Dean of Fashion and Textiles Technology at RMIT, Craig Heckenberg, Managing Director of Epson Australia, and Andrew Quinn, Director of ABMT Apparel.

“By embracing the latest digital printing technology with localised, demand-driven manufacturing, these nimble entities significantly reduce waste and enhance efficiency, aligning perfectly with the principles of the circular economy while delivering speed to market,” – Craig Heckenberg, Director of Epson Australia and New Zealand.

Thank you to everyone who joined us. Gain access to the full report by signing up to our database.

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