Following a successful 10th anniversary celebration in 2015, the organisers of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Brisbane have announced it’s all over.

With the costs of staging the event continuing to escalate and with limited opportunities for increased sponsorship, as well as a decision by the Queensland State Government not to support the Festival, organisers have been forced to review the financial viability of running the event.

Festival Director Lindsay Bennett says the Fashion Festival has promoted the local fashion industry since 2006, supported emerging designers and showcased a world-class runway event involving some of the biggest names in Australian fashion.

“It is extremely disappointing that we have had to make the decision to cancel the Festival – meaning that Queensland will be the only state not to have its own Fashion Festival this year – but unfortunately we are left with no other choice,” he says.

“It is not a decision we’ve made lightly. My team and I have explored several avenues to see if we can realistically stage an event this year of the same high standards we have reached, but unfortunately the funding is just not there.”

The Fashion Festival is Queensland’s sole major runway program and over the past 10 years it has supported local businesses and emerging talent and delivered positive outcomes for the industry and the city of Brisbane.

In 2015, 500 people were employed as a direct result of the Festival, including 180 models; 250 volunteers were engaged; and 101 room nights were booked for interstate guests and crew.

“The Festival cost well over $700,000 to stage last year and to maintain the integrity as well as evolve the event going forward it needs significant support,” Lindsay says.

“Queensland is the only state (except Tasmania) that does not have Government backing and to continue without it would mean a scaled down version that ultimately would not be showcasing Queensland’s creative industry to its maximum potential.”

The consumer-driven event was designed to drive fashion retail for Queensland, by showcasing Spring/Summer collections as they arrive in-store and directly connecting businesses with consumers and providing a boost to sales

The Festival provided a vital platform for emerging designers to present their work alongside the best in fashion, as well as opportunities to mingle with industry insiders and gain high-profile media coverage.

Professor Suzi Vaughan, Deputy Vice Chancellor at QUT, has been on the Advisory Panel of the Fashion Festival since its inception and says the loss of the Festival will leave a massive hole in Queensland’s cultural calendar.

“I have seen first-hand the many ways the Festival has created opportunities for the industry, and the myriad of ways it has engaged, revealed and celebrated emerging local designers as well as established Australian talent,” she says.

“It has helped put Brisbane on the map in terms of fashion and created a sense of pride in our home grown designers. It’s been a huge privilege to be involved and it’s with real regret that I see it disappear.”

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