DESIGNERS ON THE RISE
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Manufacturing will need a boost if the Australian fashion industry is to thrive, the winners of this year’s National Designer Award say.
Husband-and-wife duo Emma and Richard Jarman have manufactured their winning swim and resort label, Commas, in Sydney from its beginning four years ago, and say more Australian designers are now wanting to bring manufacturing back onshore since the pandemic.
“We got in early with the busiest factory,” Richard Jarman said.
“Now every designer here is trying to make (their collections) there. So they’re run off their feet.
“In Australian manufacturing, there’s no second generation coming through — it needs a government initiative to change that. And they know that.”
The award presentation, held in Melbourne as a lead-in to next month’s Melbourne Fashion Festival, also saw the brand take home the accompanying Honourable Mention for Sustainability statue, introduced last year.
Six emerging brands were up for the awards, including Maara Collective, E. Nolan and Holiday the Label.
Commas has already gained international traction by landing accounts at retailers including online majors Matchesfashion and MyTheresa, the UAE’s Bloomingdale’s and Harvey Nichols department stores, and leading resorts including Soneva in the Maldives.
It has just picked up Brown’s London.
As part of their prize, award sponsor David Jones will stock a capsule collection, and the brand will take part in the store’s gala runway on March 11, the opening night of MFF.
“Commas were the most allround in their sustainability, their design aesthetic, their business acumen and as people, they lived and breathed the range,” Bridget Veals, general manager womenswear for David Jones and part of the judging panel, told The Australian. “We were super impressed by how global they were already, but how true to being Australian they have remained.”
Eloise Bishop, head of sustainability for the department store, said all six brands showed that sustainable initiatives were now “the new normal”.
“Ten years ago, there were some emerging designers that were talking to sustainability and it was a real novelty, but now this is what they get taught at university — we have to value raw materials, we have to deal with human rights issues in supply chains and customers are more educated.”
This is the 25th anniversary of both the MFF and the NDA, the latter considered the most significant award in Australia for emerging designers.
Past winners include Toni Maticevski, Dion Lee, P.E Nation, Macgraw and Romance was Born.