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The 8 events to see at this year’s PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival if you care about the planet

Photography By Andrew O’Toole for @melbfashionfestival, PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival
Published 11.02.22

This year’s PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival proves sustainability doesn’t cost creativity: it sparks it.

The mission for this year’s multifaceted 10-day event is “to unite Australia through fashion”. Once again, it will bring Melbourne to life (after a tough couple of years) with world-class runway productions and immersive interactions. From March 3 to 12 it will put a number of local brands onto the main stage.

This year the festival is paying particular attention to designers and labels that are pushing themselves to socially and environmentally innovate. From the next-gen creatives starring in the popular Independent Runway, to labels shining a light on circular fashion, and events encouraging consumers to swap and mend their clothes, they’re exploring ways to make every part of the fashion experience more responsible. 

The festival will expand across the city and online, meaning no matter where you’re located you’ll be able to take part. As official media partners, we’ll help you stay across what’s on offer (trust us the program is stacked). To kick things off, we’ve curated this guide to the events we’re particularly excited to check out this year. 


PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival

The Independent Runway presented by Fashion Journal

A long-running highlight, the Independent Runway never fails to provide a unique peak at where the Australian fashion industry is headed.

Hosted at the Naarm creative hub of Collingwood Yards, 19 of Australia’s most innovative designers will be showcased. We’re particularly excited to check out the upcycled hand-painted denim by Moss Tunstall; the detachable, reversible and transformable made-to-order items from local label TOILÉ STUDIOS; and circular fashion disguised as street style from Speed. Can’t make it to the show? Still be sure to stop by Collingwood Yards during the festival, as the precinct will host a range of activities.


The National Graduate Showcase presented by Samsung Galaxy, supported by Fashion Journal 

We have no doubt that across the next few years Australia’s fashion students will be shifting norms, innovating for a better world and challenging the outdated models of the fashion industry. But right now, a lot of them are only wrapping up their degrees and collecting their graduate certificates. 

Catch an early glimpse at tomorrow’s stars at the National Graduate Showcase. The online forum will see the nation’s breakout fashion graduates showcase their debut collections, previewing designs that mediate both sustainability and aesthetic expression. The graduates featured have been hand-picked from the nation’s leading design institutions and universities – so get ready to see a variety of OTT excellence.


The Future of Fashion Resale 

Obviously this event caught our eye straight away. But
we’re not the only ones obsessed with fashion resale. According to a Business of Fashion report, the estimated global market size of fashion resale is US$130bn and growing. So what does the exploding second-hand retail segment mean for brands today?

In an online event, TikTok extraordinair and founder of Ownershift Amelia Crook will speak to the teams at some of the major global brands leading the way in resale (Adidas, H&M, Patagonia, Levi’s and Gucci). And check in with Diana Lee, director of research at the Business of Fashion and co-author of The Future of Fashion Resale report.

Ultimately they’ll come together to ask: could it be the missing link to making fast fashion sustainable?


Circular Style presented by The Social Studio 

Want to know what really goes into making clothes with zero waste? This event will take you behind the scenes of
The Social Studio’s Collingwood Yards manufacturing studio. The Social Studio is a not-for-profit social enterprise which is part educator, part retailer and part production house working with Melbourne’s refugee and new migrant communities to embrace upcycled fashion. It also has pulled off the unbelievable effort of producing an entire ready-to-wear collection without one scrap of fabric left unused. 

This event will explore the principles and inspirations its creative team drew on to create this game-changing low-waste collection (which you can glimpse on the Independent Runway). 

The First Nation’s Runway presented by Vogue Australia and Samsung Galaxy


Last year, Afterpay Australian Fashion Week held its first all Indigenous–led runway and the event was lauded as one of the festival’s biggest highlights. 

This year’s First Nation’s Runway, presented on the land of the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation, will once again feature a line-up of entirely First Nations designers. Curated by creative director Rhys Ripper on behalf of Kinaway, it’s one of the most anticipated events of the program. The 2022 line-up will feature ready-to-wear garments by MAARA Collective, Ngali, Amber Days, Liandra Swim, Ngarru Miimi, Kirrikin, Wa-Ring and Yanggurdi. Book now, it’s sure to sell out. 


SISTER x Kannava Jewels Showcase

OK, technically by March summer will be over, but that won’t stop SISTER and Kannava Jewels from transforming Thornbury Bowls Club into a warm weather dreamland for their sunset runway showing. On display will be a joyful offering of locally made clothes accessorised with recycled gold and silver jewels. If that wasn’t fun enough, post-show you can indulge in another kind of “art” by partying with them until 1am.

Profits from ticket sales will be donated to Wildlife of the Central Highlands, a volunteer-run grassroots organisation which helps protect Victoria’s native forests through community engagement, advocacy and the use of citizen science. Good vibes all around!

Repair Cafe – Mend-U

Imagine getting a new wardrobe without buying anything actually new? LCI Melbourne is out to make that a reality with its epic clothing swap event. Not only will participants have the chance to share their quality preloved goods with others and find vintage pieces that need a new home (keeping them from landfill), but they’ll also have the chance to learn how to mend and repair items they plan to keep forever.

A small donation from each piece collected or repaired will be provided to its friends at First Nations Fashion + Design to support its amazing initiatives.


Lambert Pop-up Shop and Performance

We’re always amazed by what people can create with waste. Challenging the boundaries of upcycling, emerging label Lambert is taking our awe to new heights. In a collaborative space in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, you can stop by for an immersive viewing (and a try-on) of the brand’s first collection: think jersey garments that are crafted from post-consumer T-shirts and bags made from broken and discarded tents and outdoor equipment. 

The shop will wrap up with a special closing performance from artist Laura Banfield, who builds interactive apparatuses from recycled metals and material offcuts. The ethereal show will feature performers operating a kinetic apparatus of pulleys and leavers which tug at the Lambert garments to create spectral silhouettes and movement. A great experience for those who agree fashion is an artform. 


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