In this exclusive extract from Ragtrader magazine, Josh McDonnell reports on the selling power of resort.
Four years ago, Dion Lee made a strategic decision that now accounts for 30% of his business.
“Resort is our most commercially successful collection,” he says. “We launched it in 2013 and consists of both our ready-to-wear collections and swim. It’s grown strongly year on year, particularly for our international wholesale market.”
While the season holds traction for northern hemisphere clients, there is added opportunity on home soil.
“Resort drops in our retail stores in October just in time for Australia’s race day season,” Lee explains.
“We find the momentum continues into December as customers look for outfits for parties and upcoming holidays. It’s the only collection that is in line with both hemispheres’ seasons so its very commercial for all markets.”
It is these imperatives driving the realignment of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia from spring/summer to resort.
The event saw a 75% uplift in international buyers after the restructure last year, attracting new brands such as We Are Kindred to its lineup in 2017.
Director Lizzie Renkert says We Are Kindred has been pursuing resort for some time, adding it makes sense for the local climate.
Since its introduction three years ago, the range has grown from 15 to 50 pieces and now accounts for 40%-45% of sales.
“It makes perfect sense because it gives international buyers a reason to come here before they have spent all of their resort budgets. It’s our best collection of the year now and it is certainly our most profitable because it is the one time of year the seasons align,” she says.
“From a production perspective we are putting orders through from Australia and the northern hemisphere at the same time for the same delivery. It is the one time of the year that this business, globally, is far easier to streamline.”
Camilla, a brand synonymous with resort since it entered the market 14 years ago, has also seen benefits across borders.
Camilla CEO Jane McNally says the brand is now delivering the same global collection at the same time, all over the world.
“We’ve seen strong growth globally, resulting in a 28% increase in international sales with 60% of our international market coming from the U.S.”
The resort season accounts for approximately 35% of the brands annual wholesale revenue globally and here in Australia.
Myer general manager of apparel Karen Brewster believes resort is part of a broader trend towards lighter, transeasonal pieces.
“In recent years there has been a move towards wearing and buying more transeasonal pieces and the milder weather we have been experiencing certainly plays into that.
"In addition, online shopping, market demand for newness in-store, the increasingly global fashion audience and how accessible travel is these days, has also meant that we want to buy in season,” Brewster says.
“The Australian fashion industry has recognised the global significance of the resort collections, and the move towards transeasonal fashion, and are attracting not only Australian designers, but international brands such as Oscar de la Renta, Jonathan Simkhai and Roksanda.”
What makes the resort collection so lucrative for many brands is a wide selling window. For We are Kindred, this period begins as early as October and, due to changing weather conditions and major buying periods such as racing season, can flow through into late March.
“For resort [key times] are October, November, December. Those three most are probably as equally as important as each other. Sales are pretty level across all three. Traditionally resort drops in November, we had to push ours toward
October to give us as much chance for sell through because people start discounting in December, pre-Christmas,” Renkert says.
For the more established brands, like Camilla, peak times are all year round.
“In Australia, sales peak a few times annually and we’re on one of those peaks at the moment as Australians prepare for their upcoming European summer holidays,” McNally says.
“Globally, we see a few spikes dependent on local climate but typically the resort season is seeing the biggest growth in the international market.
"Our resort collection is designed to hit stores in the height of Australian summer and to be bought by international wholesalers in time for the warmer months in the U.S and Europe.
"Our resort season accounts for more than a third of our annual wholesale revenue globally and we see this mix lift even higher internationally.”