Fashion Design

While high-profile cities such as London, Milan, Paris, and New York are traditionally regarded as the fashion centres of the world, these days our unique style and creativity means Sydney and Melbourne are ‘must-visit’ centres on the international fashion circuit. The Australian fashion industry is known internationally for its fresh and innovative designs and strong branding. Many of our designers - such as Collette Dinnigan, Akira Isogawa, Alex Perry, Wayne Cooper, Lisa Ho, Sass & Bide, Zimmermann, Ksubi, Easton Pearson, Alice McCall and Kit Willow - have attracted international acclaim.

Our fashions take their cue from our outdoor lifestyle and environment. Australian swimwear and surfwear are often regarded as world market leaders, with many well-established and well-known brands.

Much of our clothing has been designed with the Australian environment – from the ‘bush’ to the beach – in mind. R M Williams is a name that characterises the Australian bush; the hardwearing boots and shirts are designed for our conditions and are famous worldwide for their combination of toughness and style.

Australian designers

  • Contemporary and sometimes irreverent, Australian street and surf wear is very much part of the relaxed Australian lifestyle. Billabong, Rip Curl and Quiksilver are well-established names and produce quality surf wear that can handle the rough and tumble of beach life. For the latest in swimwear look out for the Zimmermann, Tigerlily and Seafolly labels.
  • The ancient art of the Aboriginal people has made a distinctive impact on contemporary Australian fashion, using unusual, bold designs and colours. Today there is a wide variety of traditional Aboriginal designs adorning a range of clothing. Balarinji Designs blend Indigenous art, contemporary graphics and vibrant colours in a range of styles for both men and women. Desert Designs use traditional earth tones to depict their folklore through fashion.
  • Well-known Australian designer Ken Done uses the vibrant and youthful colours of Australia’s sky and Outback, combined with Aussie icons and scenes – from the Harbour Bridge to the local beach – to create bright, contemporary clothing, fabrics and accessories. His canvas, whether it’s a T-shirt or swimwear, is uniquely Australian.
  • Akira Isogawa is one of Australia’s most prominent contemporary fashion designers. Born in Japan, he emigrated to Australia in 1986. Isogawa’s clothes draw on a variety of inspirations, notably his experiences of growing up in Japan. He is one of the few Australian designers to exhibit and sell his clothing in Paris and his label is sold in many countries around the world.
  • Ksubi is known for its conceptual theatrics, topical fashion style and its signature distressed denim, developing a dedicated following on the local and international fashion scene. Tsubi is now stocked in a wide range of stores overseas, with over 100 worldwide stockists. Some of Ksubi’s celebrity fans include Madonna, Kate Moss, Jude Law, Robbie Williams, Orlando Bloom, Paris Hilton, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston.

Originally published 7 December 2009.