What is Australian style? I’m not talking stubbies, thongs and southern cross tattoos, but the mark our designers leave that sets our industry apart.

Australian style is a broad term, and one that’s so difficult to encompass due to our hugely diverse cultural offering, isolation from the major fashion hubs of the world, and ever-changing business landscape, one that took a lot of hits in 2013 as a slew of fashion houses either submitted to administration or fell completely by the wayside.

We still have our share of success stories however, notably Dion Lee (pictured above) and Josh Goot (below), who are rapidly becoming some of our some of our most successful fashion imports.

collage_joshgoot_PRE1213

(Josh Goot)

A lot is said about Australian style being laid-back – images of Lara Bingle on a beach or Kristy Hinze on a yacht spring to mind. But the new wave of Australian design is far from that. Goot’s signature digital prints and neoprene, as well as his notable use of merino wool; Lee’s masterful laser cut techniques – these are a far cry from the ghosts of Australian fashion past. Even sass and bide made its name on a design philosophy far from anything that could be described as ‘laid-back’.

The Australian surf wear aesthetic though is still hugely successful at home and abroad, just ask Sam and Jono Cottee of Vanguard, whose label grew exponentially from its Brisbane roots through Australia and New Zealand, to Indonesia, Japan, and the USA where it has been picked up by Kitson, Urban Outfitters, and department store giant Nordstrom.

September’s New York Fashion Week spring showings saw the largest contingent ever of Australian designers. Nicky and Simone Zimmerman were among the first-timers. The label, having developed hugely from its core of swimwear, launched into the US with a store in Los Angeles in 2011, later opening in New York, and has found favour with a style that is young and playful, but clever and sharp. Is this Australian style?

This year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia industry event, set to be staged at Sydney’s Carriageworks from April 6-10, will include some exciting new initiatives aimed at opening up the event to the general public, who will be able to see the most up to date incarnations of Australian style available. A live stream and Shop the Runway concept will see a capsule collection created by designers available for purchase direct from the runway, while a post-Fashion Week event to be entitled Weekend Edition will allow ticket-holders to access a showcase from designers at the venue following the week of shows. If you’re after first-look access to Australian style leaders, this is the place to get it.

Happy Australia day, hope you’re enjoying it in style.