Australian fashion experts find it hard to identify a fashion capital in Australia, with many hesitantly naming Melbourne but hastening to add it is a shared title. With New York, London and Paris being named the undisputed fashion capitals of their countries, Australia finds it hard to choose between Sydney and Melbourne because of the differing fashion in each city.
The Sunday Telegraph’s acting fashion editor Glynis Traill-Nash states that she once believed the fashion capital lay in Melbourne, but recently Sydney has upped the fashion stakes by creating its own fashion aesthetic.
Author and University of Queensland academic Margaret Maynard also believes that fashion differs state-to-state in Australia, explaining that differing climates around the country influences each state’s fashion choices.
“Every time I travel to Melbourne I felt that the style and the colours were different and this has been the case really since the beginning of settlement.
“I think in the tropics people are bound to wear sort of slightly more, different fabrics and so on but if you take the culture of the working person in, say the office worker or whatever, I think they’re pretty much the same everywhere.
“So in the city streets I think it would be hard to identify, but it’s always been the case that we know about these differences through the way people report them and, in letters and diaries or whatever newspapers, it was certainly the case decades ago. Now, I don’t know, maybe somewhere like Brisbane is slightly less edgy perhaps than Melbourne.”
Ms Maynard agrees with Ms Traill-Nash, stating that the fashion capital of Australia comes down to either Melbourne or Sydney, but that the fashion of the two cities differs greatly.
“There’s always been rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney, I mean it goes back decades and decades. People have always thought that Sydney was more Americanised and flash compared to the conservativeness of Melbourne.”
She believes that there is a strong rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney when it comes to promoting the fashion industry.
“I suppose they continue to try and rival each other in terms of their fashionable events, Melbourne has a fashion week and then Sydney wants a fashion week and so on.
Despite this rivalry between the two cities, Ms Maynard believes that it’s Melbourne who is slightly ahead of the curb.
“[Melbourne] has a very long history of collecting fashion, you know the National Gallery of Victoria has a wonderful collection of fashion. They do a lot of fashion exhibitions there. They’re very conscious of fashion in the institution and perhaps they like to think they are more fashionable, and they have Flinders Lane and I think there’s lots of little boutiques there.
“There’s something about Melbourne that I think is perhaps a little bit ahead of Sydney.”
Cristina Tridente, Coordinator of the annual Adelaide Fashion Festival, believes that the fashion in South Australia is less diverse in comparison to that of Sydney and Melbourne.
“I think we’re slightly more conservative here in comparison to Melbourne or Sydney, they’re a little bit more eclectic and a bit more out there really so I think people, especially here, they tend to buy Australian fashion labels.”
“…It changes regularly and that is determined by the support that that capital actually gets from not only the industry and the infrastructure that’s set up but also the government and the larger industry bodies.
“So at the moment of course it’s Melbourne because they’re absolutely supported by the local community as well as their state and city community, who actually support and sponsor a lot of the fashion because it’s a marketing tool for Melbourne.”
She believes that lifestyle is the reason behind this differing fashion aesthetic state-to-state, but that Australian fashion overall has a relaxed, casual feel that attracts international buyers to our shores.
Ms McMahon states that the relaxed, laid-back lifestyle in Queensland is reflected through its fashion and stands out against the fashion in Melbourne and Sydney.
“Well we have a much more relaxed lifestyle than Melbourne and Sydney, we can get to our beaches within 15-20 minutes so a lot of our consumers live, are more, not as a city side urbane life as Melbourne and Sydney people and we have more access to outdoor activities.
“So it becomes a much more, probably casual, relaxed, I would even go so far as to say there would be a lot of a beach aesthetic with prints and colours and resort type of scenario so yeah its because of the lifestyle and the access we have to all different things that Melbourne and Sydney don’t.
“And of course Melbourne in particular has a history of European immigrants so they’ve brought that with them as well and of course that means they have that whole European history that perhaps we don’t share as much up here in Queensland.”