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Staying Power At The Melbourne Fashion Festival

VAMFF 2016

The Melbourne Fashion Festival struts into its 20th year this month with the runway lighting up on March 7 for the 200 fashion brands that will set the style barometer in Australia and abroad.

Two decades is a long time to remain relevant in an industry that moves to the tunes of taste and trends. While this unpredictability has seen many young labels fall by the wayside, a stable of familiar names have found the source of their staying power in the business of fashion.

Melbourne-based Yeojin Bae has been in the fashion industry for longer than the VAMFF, and if there is one thing those years have taught her, it is to bypass short-lived trends and hold on to timeless aesthetics. Feeding her fans’ love for her clean, classic lines and sophisticated style has earned her a loyal following including celebrities the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker.

Fashion doyenne, Carla Zampatti, takes a similar approach based on her keen observation that women still want to wear stylish outfits with a classic touch. In an earlier interview with woman with drive, she said, “When I look back at the five decades you see a recurring commitment to shape and elegance (and so) I have stuck with the jumpsuit which is a cornerstone of my brand.”

Bassike is yet another brand to eschew trends in favour of designing clothes that reflect lifestyles to which women aspire. About 70 percent of its sales are driven by its basics rather than its high-end pieces but this does not faze them in the least. After all, these basics are what won it its legion of fans that include Miranda Kerr and Megan Gale. As its co-designer Deborah Sams told the Sydney Morning Herald, “I think if something’s working, you don’t deviate.”

The creative minds behind Romance Was Born subscribe to this same philosophy. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, co-designer, Luke Sales, said, “We have always wanted our customers to buy into our product because they have an emotional connection to the garment, not because they are buying into a trend. There is heart in what we do.”

This heart is also at the core of Alice McCall’s 12-year-old eponymous brand. As she told SheSaid, it is important to maintain an aesthetic that is true to you and to trust your instincts. Alexandra and Genevieve Smart of 14-year-old Ginger & Smart echoed this sentiment in an interview with The Trend Spotter in which they emphasised the need to stay true to one’s creative aesthetic and find a real point of difference.

Yet understanding the target market and playing to your strengths is only half the journey towards longevity in the fashion industry. The rest comes down to good old-fashioned business sense. When asked by Vogue Australia for his advice to young Australians labels, Aurelio Costarella replied that he always tells fashion graduates to work in the industry before starting out on their own.

“Make sure you are as savvy on the business side as you are on the design,” he said. “You need to have a thorough understanding of all aspects of your business in order to grow – financial, retail, marketing, manufacturing.”

For Alex Perry, there is no substitute for hard work and a belief in oneself. In a separate interview with Vogue Australia, he said, “You just have to work really hard every day until it happens for you. If you get bad reviews you have to suck it up and keep working at it. I believe that if you work hard enough at what you do and you believe in it, you will become a success.” 


Image credit: Melbourne Fashion Festival

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