The unprecedented closure of bricks-and-mortar retail stores and cancellation of wholesale orders due to coronavirus has left many local designers with empty shops and warehouses full of stock. And with online sales also dwindling under the pressure of an uncertain economy, the fashion industry – along with many others at this time – is suffering. In response to the downturn, Richard Poulson – co-founder of Australian fashion label Morrison and CEO of new shopping platform Showroom-X – has teamed up with the Australian Fashion Council to launch We Wear Australian, a campaign to draw attention to brands impacted by the pandemic, and drive traffic to their online platforms.
“By uniting and putting a spotlight on the industry impact and response, we are able to support each other and contribute to the rebuild of Australia,” Poulson says.
“We have so many brands doing great things in our own backyard,” Nobody Denim co-founder John Condilis says. “At the end of the day, every one of us is trying to keep as many Australians as we can employed. Our hope is that the industry comes out of this united and stronger than ever.” Nobody Denim is one of more than 100 local labels involved in the campaign. Others include Aje, Bassike, Ellery, Esse Studios, Kitx, Manning Cartell, Matin Studio, Matteau, MJ Bale, Morrison, Nique, RM Williams, Sir the Label, Strateas Carlucci, Ten Pieces, the Daily Edited, the Upside, Rebecca Vallance, Viktoria & Woods, We Are Kindred and Wolfgang Scout.
“It’s truly amazing how the Australian fashion industry has come together, swiftly and decisively. As designers we are so grateful to have the support of the industry around us, heralding and promoting Australian fashion,” says Alexandra Smart, managing director at Ginger & Smart.
During the three-week campaign, which runs until April 30, each participating designer will be offering special deals. Expect 30 per cent off Bassike athletic tights, and 20 per cent off storewide at A.Emery and Alpha60 with code WWA20; a $50 voucher with any online order of more than $200 at Sir the Label; 25 per cent off Rachel Gilbert’s autumn ’20 collection; 15 per cent off storewide at Anna Quan and X Nihilo; 20 per cent off sale items at Viktoria & Woods; and a $100 voucher with any online order of more than $400 at Aje.
“We’ve all encountered drastic changes, so an initiative like this during such uncertain times offers an awareness platform for consumers to invest in the local businesses they love and care about. [We’re] determined to weather the storm together,” Aje co-founder Adrian Norris says.
As part of the campaign, labels will also make a financial or clothing donation to support two Australian charities: Dress for Success, an organisation improving the employability of women in NSW by providing professional clothing, a support network and career development tools, and Thread Together, which takes excess stock from designers and manufacturers and redistributes it to vulnerable people in the community, preventing it from heading to landfill.
“We produce over 90 per cent of our collection here in Australia, so support for Bassike at this time is not only about our business, it’s about the wider industry and the many family-run businesses we have worked with since the beginning, including knitters, cutters, makers and wash-and-dye houses,” Bassike co-founder Deborah Sams says.
“The added layer of being able to give back to the community through this initiative – with a financial and garment contribution to Thread Together – brings the support full circle.”
And while not everyone is in a financial position to support through purchasing right now, Poulson says it’s important to shop Australian whenever you can. Australian Fashion Council general manager Leila Naja Hibri agrees. “This is a time where a few kind words, a supportive comment or even sharing of stories over social media can make a huge difference.”
We Wear Australian runs until April 30.