• Leila Naja Hibri - Australian Fashion Council CEO
    Leila Naja Hibri - Australian Fashion Council CEO

The Australian fashion and textiles industry contributes more than $27.7 billion to the Australian economy, new research indicates. 

The findings form part of the landmark study into the economic impact of the Australian fashion industry, commissioned by the Australian Fashion Council (AFC) in collaboration with Afterpay and EY. 

The report, High Fashion to High Vis -The economic contribution of Australia’s fashion and textiles sector, found that the sector's direct economic impact was $16.3 billion, while its indirect impact totalled $10.9 billion - with the combined total impact representing upwards of 1.5% of the national economy. 

The study also revealed that the sector generates $7.2 billion in export revenue, totalling 1.7% of all Australian exports - more than double the value of wine and beer exports. 

AFC CEO Leila Naja Hibri welcomed the release of the report's findings. 

"This ground-breaking report highlights the true economic clout of our dynamic and diverse industry.

"Until now, the comprehensive value of the industry’s economic contribution – and its predominantly female workforce – has not been fully recognised.

"Now we can better understand the impact of this sector’s significant role in Australia’s creative economy, and the substantial potential of its future," she said. 

When it comes to jobs, the research found that the industry employs 489,000 people, with 315,000 of those in full time positions - more than mining and utilities. 

The fashion and textiles sector also creates opportunities for women, with 77% of the workforce being made up by women, compared to the national average of 47%. 

When analysing jobs available in designer fashion, the study found that the designer label sector accounts for approximately 2% of total fashion industry employment.

The industry supports a diverse array of roles, including pattern makers, colourists, photographers, seamstresses, stylists, and uniforms and workwear production.

The report also recognised the industry's interaction with the broader economy, including wool and cotton production, tourism, media and creative professional services and the recycling and reuse sectors.

The research highlighted how significantly the fashion and textiles sector drives regional prosperity and tourism growth, given its physical retail presence in every local shopping centre and main street across the country. 

NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres added that this week's Afterpay Australian Fashion Week drives home fashion's importance to the tourism sector. 

"Sydney is the proud home of Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, which is a platform to showcase design and creativity, celebrate industry, foster discussion and partnerships between Australia’s creative leaders while attracting visitors to the Harbour City for a world-class event.

"It’s wonderful that these important sectors are recognised for their economic and social contribution, and there’s nowhere better to acknowledge that than at the country’s pre-eminent international fashion event, Afterpay Australian Fashion Week in Sydney," he said. 

Assessing the impacts caused by COVID-19, the report shows leading industry challenges being rising business costs and supply chain volatility.

"EY observed that the industry needs to continue to evolve as it responds to changes to physical retailing, consumer behaviour and supply chains that have been accelerated as a result of COVID-19," EY said. 

"For future growth, areas of continued focus for the industry will be responsible, circular business models where sustainable sourcing and recycling are paramount," the organisation said. 

The report also recognises the importance of technology in helping retailers deliver enhanced customer experiences. 

It also highlights the need for further investment from government and business in reskilling talent to ensure workers have
future-ready skills to meet the demands of new technology and more complex models of design, production and retail.

"Such a comprehensive assessment of the Australian fashion industry and its far-reaching economic impact is long overdue," Afterpay co-founder and co-CEO Anthony Eisen said. 

"It is a privilege to be associated with this report, and with the Australian Fashion Council, as we work together to focus on the long-term, sustainable future of the industry on behalf of consumers and retailers," he said. 

A copy of the High Fashion to High Vis -The economic contribution of Australia’s fashion and textiles sector report is available on the AFC website. 

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