WORDS BY STEPHEN YU
As fashion capitals become increasingly global, Australian fashion designers are carving their place on the international stage. Characterised by a clean and modern aesthetic, the best Australian clothing designers offset this refined style with sporty influences and a hint of beachy sexiness. This unique point of view singles them out as the go-to brands for celebrities, magazine editors and street-style stars today.
Among the best Australian fashion brands are those who have already been invited to present their collections overseas, like Dion Lee who showed first at London Fashion Week in 2012 and now presents his collections in New York alongside the homegrown sister duo behind Zimmermann. Meanwhile, Kym Ellery of namesake label Ellery now shows on-schedule at Paris Fashion Week. Alongside the couture-like talent of designers such as Acler, brands like Lee Mathews also specialise in the art of relaxed Australian dressing, ensuring that design talent down under is stealing the spotlight. These are the top names to know right now.
With humble beginnings as a collection of dresses sold from a stall at Paddington market, the brand started by the Zimmermann sisters skyrocketed to global success following being featured in an editorial in Australian Vogue. Now, their fusion of fashion with swimwear along with their intricate cuts, dainty prints and bohemian aesthetic have made Zimmermann the beach wardrobe of women everywhere.
Camilla and Marc
The brother and sister duo behind Camilla and Marc have perfected the art of creating high-end pieces that are well constructed yet simple in their design. With a focus on masculine-style tailoring but with a feminine silhouette, their brand is defined by its combination of luxurious fabrics, colourful prints and eccentric details to create modern pieces that fans like Bella Hadid love.
A Central Saint Martins graduate and mainstay on the Paris Fashion Week schedule, Kym Ellery is one of the most talked about Australian fashion designers. Her knack for architectural silhouettes and pushing boundaries with proportion has garnered a loyal following that includes actresses Cate Blanchett and Phoebe Tonkin, plus street-style stars like Vogue’s Christine Centenera and Man Repeller's Leandra Medine.
When you think of standout Antipodean fashion, Dion Lee is one of the first names that springs to mind. It's Australian clothing designers like Lee that lend a sense of clean modernity to the international fashion industry, creating clothing that's impressive in its execution and refreshing in its hint of experimentation.
Prior to founding Acler, co-founders Kathryn Forth and Julia Ritorto were already well established in the Australian fashion industry having worked as designers for cult Aussie brands Cameo and Finders Keepers. Positioning themselves as the antidote to the mass-produced design that dominates the market, each Acler piece blends meticulous sculptural construction with refined minimalism and is developed over the course of a year with each adjustment being made by hand.
Lee Mathews draws on the worlds of art and architecture to create sculptural silhouettes and elegant prints that are every bit as creative as the artists that inspire her eponymous brand. It’s no wonder that Lee’s core aesthetic is so identifiable and has garnered fans globally for its interplay between colour, texture and patterning, its high-quality fabrics and easy-wearing silhouettes.
Ginger & Smart
Sydney-based Ginger & Smart was founded in 2002 by sisters Alexandra and Genevieve Smart and juxtaposes futuristic and natural colours, prints, graphics and florals across a variety of feminine workwear, wardrobe essentials and statement pieces. Accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia, their timeless pieces are designed to be worn for life and have a low impact on the environment by making use of sustainable materials and socially responsible manufacturers.