Vogue Fashion Relief is a 48-hour online sale event this weekend featuring exclusive discounts from dozens of Australian designer labels
Vogue Fashion Relief is a 48-hour online sale event this weekend featuring exclusive discounts from dozens of Australian designer labels

‘We won’t survive’: Fashion industry on brink

VOGUE Australia editor Edwina McCann has warned the Australian fashion industry is on the brink of collapse amid the COVID-19 crisis if design businesses can't convert their new season stock into cash.

Vogue and GQ Australia have subsequently launched a campaign to save fashion businesses, hosting a 48-hour online shopping event, Vogue Fashion Relief, this Saturday and Sunday, through which Australia's best known designer labels will offer exclusive discounts on their new and existing stock in a bid to boost their bottom line and survive the coming months of hibernation.

Edwina Forest and Adrian Norris from Sunshine Coast-founded label Aje lobbied for help from Edwina McCann at Vogue after hearing about the supply issues from all their fellow designers.
Edwina Forest and Adrian Norris from Sunshine Coast-founded label Aje lobbied for help from Edwina McCann at Vogue after hearing about the supply issues from all their fellow designers.

McCann created the event after receiving an SOS call from Aje co-founder Adrian Norris, who explained that supply issues were threatening labels, who had pre-sold product months ago, but those orders had since been cancelled by retailers.

That left designers with large amounts of money tied up in excess stock they had already paid for and limited avenues, other than online, to convert that stock into cash.

"The orders were done. They can usually treat that like cash, and then to have that order cancelled it leaves them holding that stock," McCann said. "Some of our big designers will have millions of dollars of stock. Every one of them is threatened."

McCann said while she was now working with designers to sell their product to Chinese consumers who were already coming out of coronavirus lockdown, the VFR would provide a lot of businesses their last chance to convert their stock into cash before months of uncertainty.

Edwina McCann, pictured at the Vogue 60th Anniversary Breakfast in December, believes this is the worst threat to the Australian fashion industry in its history. Picture: Damian Shaw
Edwina McCann, pictured at the Vogue 60th Anniversary Breakfast in December, believes this is the worst threat to the Australian fashion industry in its history. Picture: Damian Shaw

She said it was "without doubt" the worst threat to the Australian fashion industry.

"The worst case scenario is there basically isn't (a fashion industry) at the end of this. That is a very real possibility," McCann said.

"I appreciate a lot of Australians don't have the income to spend on this … we are just trying to say if you do have the disposable income, maybe this weekend think about supporting one of your favourite local brands that might not make it out the other side."

Designers such as Dion Lee and Camilla are offering up to 30 per cent off, while Zimmermann is handing out gift vouchers for every purchase and Aje will gift free earrings, valued at $145, to anyone who shops their new Révérence Edit.

"We get one sale come through and my whole team is cheering. Even though it's a scary time if we don't support industries … there won't be anything at the end of it," said Norris, who, alongside co-founder Edwina Forest, has cut his personal salary to keep Aje afloat.

 

Matteau is offering 30 per cent off their 2020 Resort collection.
Matteau is offering 30 per cent off their 2020 Resort collection.

 

Norris guided the label through the Global Financial Crisis when the brand was in its infancy on the Sunshine Coast, and learnt that production had to continue if they wanted to come out of the COVID-19 crisis with a viable business.

"The hardest thing to accept, is there is something completely out of my control which has shut down every single part of my revenue, and how do I map out the next 3 to 6 months without having any money coming in?" he said.

"The only different thing about fashion and that's why I spoke to Edwina … if we stopped working now we don't have any product when we come out in July or August. While other industries can hibernate we need to keep all the wheels of our business turning. We'd come out and our stores would be empty."

"Every single dollar counts now for every designer."



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