Australian Fashion Council industry relations manager Samantha Delgos shares her forecasts for the fashion industry ahead.
Innovation and technology:
These are two of the most exciting opportunities for fashion businesses to innovate outdated business practices. For example, AFC’s FashTech Lab brought together Australian tech companies (Style Atlas, Bandicoot, Couture Cad, Ponz Studios, Neuno) last year to give Australian fashion brands the opportunity to trial 3D digital sampling and create a proof case to reduce time, cost and textile waste.
Exploring new markets:
Data and insights from the Australian Fashion™ and Austrade have signalled that the UK is the ‘lowest hanging fruit’ for Australian fashion brands looking to build their international presence and export markets. This, along with the introduction of the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement, will make exporting into the UK particularly lucrative for brands that manufacture in Australia.
Critical skills shortages:
Brands like Country Road and Decjuba are making the shift to local manufacturing, crafting knitwear and sweats in Melbourne from Australian cotton and merino wool. However, with manufacturers unable to find skilled workers to replace an ageing workforce, increasing capacity to meet demand is becoming an industry-wide challenge. While this year, the National Skills Commission’s list of high in-demand jobs now includes industry roles such as footwear production, weaving and knitting machine operators, skills shortages are still far-reaching across the industry from sustainability consultants to digital pattern makers.
The key to rebuilding local manufacturing in Australia lies in ‘right-shoring,’ where investment in technology is used to innovate manufacturing processes. Cotton and wool grown and farmed here in Australia are regarded as some of the highest quality fibre in the world but sent offshore for value-add processing, spinning and weaving. By closing this materials loop and reconnecting our fibres to a localised, innovative supply chain, there is an opportunity to future-proof the manufacturing sector against continued global disruptions and help Australia hold a competitive edge.
Circular fashion transitions:
The National Clothing Product Stewardship Scheme (NCPSS) report and roadmap will be revealed in mid-2023, marking the beginning of the transition to the circular fashion economy in Australia. The scheme will be pioneering in its approach to reducing textile waste, including circular design practices and strategies to close the loop on materials. With a national average of 56 items of new clothing purchased per person each year, transitioning to an effective circular economy will mean a seismic and systemic change in the way we design, produce, sell and consume fashion in Australia.
The ACCC is cracking down on greenwashing in 2022/23, ensuring the validity of sustainability claims is critical as brands come under increased scrutiny. In early 2023, we will be launching an Environmental and Social Impact Toolkit for Australian Fashion™ certified brands and AFC members to support the development of brand sustainability statements in alignment with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Promote Australian fashion:
By defining Australian fashion for the first time as effortless, raw, boundless and fearless, our new marketing campaign will sell Australia’s unique positioning and progressive values to customers around the world.
Build local manufacturing:
The AFC will advocate for the local manufacturing industry and take advantage of the recent inclusion of textile, clothing and footwear within fibre and its derivatives in the government’s National Reconstruction Fund.
Develop career pathways:
The AFC announced eight key fashion and textile manufacturing roles were escalated to ‘strong demand’ by the National Skills Commission in October. This is the first step to increasing the accessibility and quality of VET programs to support new career pathways and government-funded apprenticeships for the fashion and textile industry.
Sustainability and circularity:
The third and final Town Hall for the National Clothing Product Stewardship Scheme will be held on February 15, 2023, to reveal insights into the scheme and roadmap toward a circular economy in Australia by 2030.