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‘See now, buy now’: New way to buy clothes

Australia’s official Fashion Week is undergoing a makeover ahead of its return in 2021, with a new name and support measures to revive retail.

Now known as Afterpay Australian Fashion Week – after luxury car brand Mercedes-Benz was replaced as naming rights sponsor – the country’s premiere fashion event will be held in Sydney from May 31 to June 4.

With catwalk shows to return to the open-air venue of Carriageworks, designers will unveil their resort 2022 collections.

Backed by mega agency IMG, catwalk shows will incorporate live and “digital activations” that follow strict government guidelines around social distancing.

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Fees will also be waived for participating labels, organisers revealed. There will be a focus on accessibility, diversity and inclusion and sustainability as part of the revamped event.

With “see now, buy now” shows, the public will be able to access selected events via VIP packages, Afterpay Australian Fashion Week: The Experience.

Alexandra Smart, of Sydney-based brand Ginger & Smart, said the confirmed return of Fashion Week for 2021 was a sign of optimism for the Australian industry.

“I think it’s an amazing opportunity to really think outside the square, and to move on from what has been presented on a traditional runway stage,” Ms Smart told News Corp.

“This is a chance to look at that model and come up with new ways of expressing the brand.”

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, international designers from Chanel to Dior staged digitised presentations in place of traditional runway shows due to strict public health guidelines.

“You look around the world at some of the brands that have executed (shows) digitally, it’s been very engaging,” Ms Smart said. “And they have been able to express the experience of their brands in so many different ways that are outside the traditional runway model.

“I think from a designer’s perspective, it means we have so many ways to do things differently.”

Natalie Xenita, executive Director of IMG’s fashion events group, said the new-look AAFW came at a pivotal moment for the Australian industry, which had been hit hard by COVID-19.

“Over the past 25 years, Australian Fashion Week has established itself as one of the world’s most innovative fashion showcases,” Ms Xenita said in a statement.

“Now more than ever, we recognise the need to come together to ensure the Australian fashion industry will continue to thrive for decades to come.”

While the full list of participating designers will be unveiled at a later date, Camilla Freeman-topper and Marc Feeman, of camilla and marc, Carla Zampatti and Ginger & Smart have been linked to the 2021 schedule.

This year’s fashion week, which was set to celebrate the well-heeled event’s 25th anniversary, was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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