London, Milan, New York and Paris; these fab four are considered to be the white-hot centres of global fashion, collectively producing more celebrated labels, designers, models and tastemakers than the rest of the world combined. While Australia rarely gets much of look-in when it comes to a who's who of the fashion elite, things are changing. Australian Fashion Week is fast becoming one of the most vaunted and talked about shows on the global circuit, and the country is continuing to throw out more top-end designers than ever before.
If Australia is ever to get its very own fashion Mecca that can compete with the likes of the Big Four, the gauntlet will naturally fall to Sydney, which is already the centre of Oz's fashion world and is where the vast majority of talent is located. Melbourne is too down-to-Earth, Brisbane is too much fun, and Perth is much too reserved, so it's no contest. However, how far does Sydney need to advance in order to reach the top tier of urban fashion hothouses? Let's take a quick look.
Sydney's Fashion Stats
One of the big issues is that Sydney does not have any international fashion companies, and the only global clothing brands that do exist are surf wear. While London may have McQueen and Paris may have Givenchy, Sydney is currently saddled with Billabong and Rip Curl. Although the city only has two international clothing brands, it makes up the numbers elsewhere. Local fashion manufacturers employ over 37,000 people and are responsible for tens of thousands more jobs, a seriously impressive number on a per capita basis. Local startups like Di$count Universe have brought Sydney's in-your-face fashion to the world stage, with the likes of Katy Perry and Kylie Jenner rocking their highly distinctive creations. Sydney's star is on the rise.
The cutting edge of fashion all happens online nowadays, with streetwear influencers on Instagram and fast-fashion shopping startups driving much of the change in 2018. Beyond the world of fashion, Sydney is doing the whole tech thing pretty well, with thousands of globally successful online platforms, from payment platforms to online casinos, now being based in the city, and sites like Joe Fortune driving much of the city's tech boom. Well, while online casinos may be thriving, fashion and technology have also entered into a perfect marriage, with hot fashion startups like HerFashionBox and Collider helping put Sydney on the global radar as somewhere where innovation happens, which is key for any city wanting to enter the hallowed ranks of being a fashion capital.
What Needs to Change?
While things look promising, Sydney is obviously a long way from becoming the next Milan. There needs to be more investment in the small-scale local brands that are driving the scene, and more to be done to invite global brands and designers to set up shop here. A dedicated fashion school, something that has been standard in places like the UK and France for decades, would also go a long way to boosting our international profile.