Runway City: Melbourne Fashion Festival

Fashion Festival

The Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival is on until 18 March. We chat with the chair, David Briskin, about the festival. We also find out about the Victorian Government’s Victoria Invitation Program (VIP), showcasing local designers to the world.

David Briskin

Portrait shot of David Brisken

Australia’s largest fashion event, the 22nd Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival has come a long way in two decades.

It’s now a truly international multi-platform offering (using “see now, buy now” technology platforms as far away as China, for instance), and is helping to stimulate and celebrate Australia’s fashion industry while also delivering network and job prospects for those working in fashion, beauty, design, creative marketing and retail via industry seminars. That’s a savvy move given the fashion industry brings in more than half a billion dollars into Victoria alone, and employs thousands of local designers, manufacturers and retail workers.

Staging events beyond the city centre is another step in the event’s evolution. “We had over 400,000 live engagements with the program last year,” says festival chair, David Briskin. “For the City of Melbourne alone, in excess of $8 million is injected into the CBD annually and there’s an even greater economic impact when you add sectors from regional Victoria through to the City of Stonnington and Westfield Doncaster. The Festival supports over 200 creative brands and businesses and last year, 40,000 tickets were purchased, with 15 per cent of ticket holders coming from out of state.”

In terms of shaping the state’s cultural identity and cementing Melbourne’s place as the nation’s fashion mecca, Briskin points out that the Festival has always aimed to be accessible: customer-centric, in other words. “It’s always strived to democratise the traditional fashion landscape and create an event that presents fashion upfront to consumers, and in doing so create economic stimulus for stakeholders,” he says. “This has not only set the stride for 22 years, but it’s a model in the global fashion eco-system that’s transforming how fashion business is done – created and engineered in Melbourne by Melburnians!”

David Briskin: top four highlights in the 2018 program

  • You can shop the runway in real time. “Part of our DNA is the “see now, buy now” business model, invented at the Festival’s inception.”
  • We’ve fully embraced digital. “We have a clear grasp of the rapidly growing digital landscape.”
  • We hosted a pop-up Plaza party (until 10 March) for pre- and post-runway festivities at the Royal Exhibition and Melbourne Museum Precinct. “This area gave consumers an extended Festival experience, including food and drink pop-ups and live entertainment. Think of it as Melbourne’s liveliest fashion party.”
  • We’re focused on sponsorship and tourism smarts. “Collaborations with Visit Victoria and Virgin Australia are part of our quest to develop the visitor economy.”

Victoria Invitation Program

Showcasing the capability of Victoria’s fashion designers and putting them in front of key international audiences, Trade and Investment Victoria sponsored two international designer showcase runways at this year’s Virgin Australia Fashion Festival through the Victoria Invitation Program and its inbound trade mission.

The mission is already delivering results with Victorian fashion label Elliatt announcing a partnership with Chinese ecommerce giant VIP.com that will make its high-end products available directly to more than 50 million active customers.

Elliatt celebrated its new partnership with VIP.com by showcasing designs with a show at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF) where products can be purchased directly and in real-time from the major e-commerce website.

Video: VIP showcases Victorian designers at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival

Video Transcript: VIP showcases Victorian designers at Fashion Festival (VAMFF)

[Vision: Fashion parade]
[Vision: Local designers are taking Victorian fashion to the world thanks to the Victoria Invitation Program – Victoria’s flagship inbound trade mission]
[Vision: Fashion model displaying Australian designs]

Katie Pratt – Director, ELLIATT
We design very feminine floaty pieces, mainly occasion dresses.
[Vision: Fashion models displaying designs]
[Trade Victoria’s VIP is a platform for global partners to experience what local designers have to offer][Vision: Audience watching fashion show – fashion models displaying designs]

Shayne Mele – Merchandise Manager, VIP.com
Australian brands are designed in other markets and there’s certainly some great local talent.
[Vision: Shayne speaking]
It’s double digit growth forecast for the next five years in the China apparel retail industry versus Australia where we’re, you know, sort of low single digits.

[Vision: Fashion models displaying designs]
[Vision: Katie speaking]
Having retail stores and distribution alone doesn’t really reach the whole market.
[Vision:  Audience filming fashion parade – Shayne speaking]
The cost of doing business globally with e-Commerce is a lot less than bricks and mortar retail.

[Vision: Fashion model in parade – Katie speaking]
We’re really creative in Australia, especially here in Melbourne.
[Vision: Fashion models displaying fashion designs – audience applauding fashion parade]
Wherever we go and whenever we open a new market we just have everyone saying we love Australian fashion, we love Australian designers.

[VICTORIA State Government]

[Speaker: Authorised by Victorian Government, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne]