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The Return of Australian Design through Slow Fashion

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Staff writer Claire Ducharme takes a look into the developments of slow fashion Australia and provides some tips on how to shop more sustainably.

In 2023, The Guardian published an article titled “How Australian fashion fell to pieces.” This article chronicles Australian fashion from 1991 to today, blaming manufacturing shifts, raw material prices, and digital marketing tactics for Australian consumers’ shift away from local designers towards global corporations and look-alike fashion. In turn, this article aims to present readers with a glimmer of hope (and some shopping advice), as slow fashion weaves Australian design back into global interest.

The concept of slow fashion is not a new one. 90s style icons, fictional or real, proved the value of a curated look no matter your personal taste (think Carrie Bradshaw, Kurt Cobain, Rachel Green, Denzel Washington, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, or David Bowie). The easiest way to conceptualize slow fashion is by simply viewing it as clothing bought or used with intention and mindfulness. In practicality, it may be defined in relation to mass consumption, commercialization, and fast fashion. Rather than indulging in clothing based on rapid trend cycles, slow fashion consumers may pay more attention to quality, longevity, sustainability, ethics, and closet curation.

Slow fashion is not just expensive, exclusive, small-batch drops. It also includes rentals, vintage, and second-hand clothing. Slow fashion is more mindset than monetary.

While money isn’t everything when it comes to slow fashion, this article was actually inspired by my maddening (and unfulfilled) desire for a pricey and exclusive Mr Winston tank top.

Mr Winston, a mother-daughter-owned brand from Melbourne, is a higher-end company committed to local manufacturing and sustainability. They also operate on a limited-run basis, meaning their items are only released in small batches, ensuring that clothes will not go to waste and remain exclusive. With 145k followers, Mr Winston has effectively made themselves a Melbourne status symbol coveted by Instagram users internationally. 

Similarly, A.BCH, another Melbourne brand, also aims to keep manufacturing local, focusing on circularity, ethics, and sustainability at the most affordable price possible. A.BCH even goes as far as to offer pricing transparency, resources explaining the sourcing processes of their fibers, and clarity regarding their manufacturing processes.

Many brands bringing Australian fashion back onto the map are dress companies. Dresses from down-under are notoriously popular on TikTok around prom and formal seasons. Formal dresses are typically only worn once. Therefore, many sustainable Australian companies have made a choice to offer rentals to their customers. HNTR The Label boasts “exquisite timeless gowns and elevated resort wear”, offering worldwide delivery for purchases and countrywide gown rentals that keep prices relatively low, create access to out-of-stock and archival pieces, and keep fashion sustainable. Emgi rentals, Curated by KT and Aquino’s Attire, also promise individuals access to curated pieces at a lower cost, all while reducing the negative impacts of fast fashion.

If you’re more interested in vintage, archival, and second-hand pieces, you might find your next favourite closet addition at Cora Vintage, From Me 2 U Clothing, or LovebyVenus. 

While The Guardian points to 90s and 00s brands like Allanah Hill, Alice McCall, and Sass & Bide falling out of favor, brands like Allorae Studio, Deconduarte, My Friends are Yours, Bye Bambi, and With Harper Lu are bringing Australian fashion back to local design and manufacturing. As slow fashion brands with limited small batch pieces, like those offered by Blinc 1000, and clothes reminiscent of quality 90s fashion take over the Aussie fashion scene, we just can’t help but be drawn to the uniqueness and authenticity of their looks. Measured exclusivity is how you elevate your brand and capture an audience, and small Australian brands are doing it right.

By choosing a ‘slow fashion’ mindset, you can do the same thing. Elevating yourself is easy, and doesn’t have to be expensive. Choose to be as conscious with your purchases, as your favorite fashion brands are with their drops. Clothes are only as disposable as the amazing person behind them, and you aren’t disposable, so shop smart and make unique choices for a timeless impact!

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