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A guide to Afterpay Australian Fashion Week for fabulous people who care about the planet

Photography By Mark Metcalfe Getty Images
Published 06.05.22

From May 9 to 13, the style set is taking over Sydney for the annual Afterpay Australian Fashion Week. Expect to see bright ideas (and brighter outfits) as the country’s leading designers convene in the city to showcase their Resort 2023 collections.

The Carriageworks precinct in Eveleigh is where the majority of this year’s AAFW events will take place, with a selection of shows popping up in offsite locations elsewhere around Sydney city. Think garden runways straight out of your wildest cottagecore fantasies, flawless presentations from the most experienced in the business and exciting collections from emerging designers shaping the future of the industry.  

While AAFW is mainly geared towards professionals working in the fashion industry, there are shows and talks open to the public (the full list of which you can see here). We’ve secured our tickets and, unsurprisingly, the events we are most hyped to see are those wedding beautiful aesthetics with environmental responsibility. Conscious brands will be delivering some of the most interesting ideas on and off the runway, proving once again that sustainability is a driving force for creativity.  

From immersive runway shows to conversations with sustainability stalwarts, these are the AAFW events on RIISE’s must-see list.  

ST. AGNI RESORT 23 RUNWAY

Hailing from Byron Bay, St. Agni was founded on a commitment to functionality, longevity and considered design. Lara and Matt Fells, the husband-and-wife duo behind the brand, apply this ethos to everything they do, from carefully handwoven accessories to detailed sustainability strategies.  

At AAFW this year, St. Agni is putting a sexy spin on the everyday luxury pieces it has become known for, with a collection inspired by 90s minimalism. Expect to see gender-fluid dressing that normalises men borrowing women’s clothing (about time), oversized blazers, delicate knits and a handcrafted take on the classic slip dress. All executed using sustainable materials like responsibly sourced wool, GOTS-certified linen, vegetable-dyed leather and BCI-certified cotton.

IN CONVERSATION WITH BASSIKE

Deborah Sams and Mary Lou Ryan have been doing understated sustainability since before it was cool. The duo founded bassike in 2006 with the simple vision of making high-quality staples locally in Australia. Today, they run one of the country’s most well known responsible brands, creating collection after collection of expertly crafted, fashion-forward men’s and women’s clothing that is anything but, well, basic.  

The company achieved carbon neutrality across its head office and retail stores in July 2021 and makes over 95 per cent of garments in Australia using premium natural materials. Sams and Ryan will sit down with Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Jillian Davison at AAFW to discuss these impressive achievements and what it takes to run a successful sustainable brand.  


ESSE RUNWAY 

Australian fashion label Esse Studios wants us to treat our wardrobes like collections of fine art, slowly curated over time with pieces we’ll cherish forever. Rather than seasonal collections, the brand releases biannual capsule ranges of updated wardrobe staples, modern tailored pieces and refined sundresses. There is strong continuity between each collection, a purposeful choice by founder and designer Charlotte Hicks who creates each range with the modern capsule wardrobe in mind.  

Behind the scenes, Esse is pursuing sustainable growth: 95 per cent of its fabrications are certified, 98 per cent of garments are made in Sydney and the brand is in the process of becoming B Corp certified. With all that in mind, we are incredibly excited to see what Hicks has in store for us at AAFW this year. The brand’s presentation is an industry-only event, but you can also catch Esse on Afterpay’s Future of Fashion runway alongside a crew of forward-thinking Aussie designers.   


DIGITAL FASHION: THE NEW FRONTIER  

It’s only a matter of time before we’re all swapping our Friday night dinner plans for a meet-up in the metaverse. But that leaves one big question: what will we be wearing? As more humans move into digital spaces, the way we shop, dress and engage with brands is changing.  

Digital Fashion: The New Frontier will look at the fashion tech trends emerging with the rise of the metaverse, NFTs and augmented reality. Moderated by POPSUGAR publisher Amanda Bardas, joining the panel discussion will be INJURY founder and creative director Eugene Leung (who held Australia’s first-ever CGI runway at AAFW 2021), XR/game producer Caitlin Lomax and the CEO of crypto exchange BTC Markets, Caroline Bowler.  


MATTEAU RUNWAY 

It wouldn’t be Australian Fashion Week without a swimwear feature. Founded by Sydney-born sisters Peta Heinsen and Ilona Hamer, Matteau is known for its understated swimwear and apparel, and commitment to inclusivity and environmental responsibility.  

The brand’s romantic aesthetic and glove-like fits have won over influencers and editors alike, which makes sense when you learn Hamer spent her 20s working as a Vogue stylist. Swimwear pieces are executed in sustainable fabrics like Organic Content Standard (OCS) certified organic cotton and recycled and regenerated nylon and viscose as part of its wider commitment to responsible business practices. We can’t wait to dive into its next collection at AAFW.   


THE SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS JOURNEY 

Sustainability is the future of fashion but while the brands listed above are leading the way, many others are still at the beginning of their journey. This session will provide practical tips for brands that want to make their supply chains more sustainable, covering how to get started and identify actions that will have the greatest impact.  

The discussion will be hosted by Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, with Australian Financial Review fashion editor Lauren Sams joining to moderate. Also on the panel will be GlamCorner CEO Dean Jones, Australian Fashion Council CEO Leila Naja Hibri and KITX founder Kit Willow.  

For more information and to view the full schedule of events, head to the Afterpay Australian Fashion Week website.  

 

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