The Australian fashion scene has, to be frank, gone through a somewhat bleak period over the past 12 months. While online shopping is up, so are the number of returns. Bricks and mortar stores are seeing less foot traffic, and competitive discounting from department stores can mean boutiques and brand flagships find themselves at a distinct disadvantage.
Add to that the number of industries cutting back on hours and staff – from airlines to hospitality – due to the current pandemic, even with the possibility of stimulus packages, it's going to be a long hard road back to black for some of our favourite brands.
The latest blow came today, with IMG confirming that Sydney's annual Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in May is cancelled due to health concerns surrounding COVID-19.
This was to be the 25th anniversary of the iconic trade show, which has launched the careers of some of Australia's biggest designers including Collette Dinnigan, Romance Was Born, Ksubi (back when it was Tsubi) and P.E. Nation. It would have also been the first year to see tickets sold to the general public. Previously, the event had been strictly industry and invitation only.
In a statement sent to the media earlier today, IMG stated that : "Due to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC)'s mandate against holding non-essential, organised public gatherings of more than 500 people in light of global health concerns regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus), we regret to share that Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia 2020 will not take place."
This announcement comes hot on the heels of Melbourne's Virgin Australia Fashion Festival (VAMFF) shutting down events earlier than scheduled last week and Myer's slashing of new stock from local designers, many who would have been showing at this year's MBFW.
Those brands who were locked in to take part in this year's Fashion Week are yet to respond to the statement with a plan on how they intend on showing their latest collections. (One PR who ES contacted said that they had only just found out at the same time as the media had.)
As companies continue to assess just how much the economy will suffer over the coming months (and it will be months, there's no point pretending the flow on effect of COVID-19 is going to be over any time soon), we as consumers can do our bit simply by investing in local designers.
From Double Rainbouu streetwear, Outland Denim and Bassike classics to M.J. Bale and P. Johnson tailors, the variety of menswear available that is Australian-owned is more diverse than it has ever been.
If you've been tossing up whether or not to get that new blazer, some decent jeans or try one of those fresh print shirts you've seen other gents having a go of, now's the time to invest in it.
Just make sure it's locally sourced.