Clothes, Catwalks and Cool Designers: The OTHER Fashion Event We Loved This Week

By Marie-Antoinette Issa
on 14 May 2024

Sydney’s style set has been descending upon Carriageworks for the five-day-long extravaganza that is Australian Fashion Week. However, it is not the only trend-setting spectacle to hit town. Hosted by the Australian Fashion Council (AFC) in collaboration with Jodie Haydon, Partner of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese – this week’s Innovation and Sustainability Showcase at Kirribilli House brought together leading Australian fashion designers, industry allies, and government officials under one roof.

What unfolded was a showcase of Australian-made innovations driving the industry towards a more sustainable future, projected against the backdrop of Kirribilli House, courtesy of Epson Australia, AFC’s print and projection technology partner.

The Australian Fashion Council FashTech Lab stole the spotlight, supported by four local technology partners – Style Atlas, Bandicoot Imaging, Couture Cad and Ponz Studio. This initiative piloted 15 Australian brands in transitioning from physical to digital sampling, resulting in significant savings on cost, time, carbon, water, and textile waste. More importantly, it emphasised the potential to retain jobs and digital skills within the local community.

Another standout was the Mud to Marle project, led by the 2023 Country Road Climate Fund winner. Collaborating with Full Circle Fibres, Deakin University, and textile manufacturer Loomtex, this initiative transforms low-value Australian wool and cotton into high-value yarn, showcasing the feasibility of low-impact and circular textile solutions within Australia.

BlockTexx, an Australian clean technology company, presented its innovative approach to textile recycling, recovering polyester and cellulose from clothing blends. Adrian Jones, Co-founder of BlockTexx, emphasised the importance of advanced technology and manufacturing in diverting textiles from landfills and paving the way for future materials.

The overarching message of the evening was clear: through collaboration and technology, Australia can position itself as a global leader in responsibly made, high-quality, design-led clothing and textiles. Jaana Quaintance-James, CEO of the AFC, highlighted Australia’s unique position, leveraging its abundant raw fibres, burgeoning capability, and creative talent to gain a competitive edge on the global stage.

Quaintance-James underscored the potential for Australia to become renowned for its high-quality, responsibly made, and circular clothing, creating economic opportunities and empowering its predominantly female-powered workforce. With the right investment and collaboration, the $27.2 billion fashion industry can evolve into a force for sustainability and innovation.

Looking ahead, the Australian Fashion Council remains committed to fostering further industry collaboration to accelerate innovation and sustainability. With partners like Epson, they aim to create a thriving, more sustainable, and globally competitive Australian fashion industry.

Ultimately, while the allure of fashion may often lie in its aesthetics, events like these remind us of its transformative power as a catalyst for positive change. As we applaud the creativity on the catwalks, let’s also celebrate the ingenuity behind the scenes, shaping a future where fashion isn’t just beautiful—it’s sustainable too.

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