Fashion designers consider joining forces – The Australian Financial Review

In April, 30 designers rallied together to offer steep discounts on stock that had been returned to them from department stores and online retailers which had cancelled orders.

The results were positive, with more than $2.5 million in sales over three weeks despite the downturn.

Still, Mr Poulson, who is also the CEO of soon-to-launch e-commerce venture Showroom X, said the recovery would be slow and hinged on consumer confidence.

Aje’s tomato red boiler suit at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia.  

“The stimulus money runs out in September. While there is a level of optimism out there at the moment, I believe that’ll come to an abrupt end [then],” he said.

A survey by the Australian Fashion Council of 182 designers revealed that 75 per cent are struggling to cover costs such as lease obligations and staffing, 26 per cent have had to let employees go and the worst hit companies reported, on average, an 86 per cent drop in in-store sales revenue.

More than half believe that the road to recovery will take more than a year.

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Designer Adrian Norris from Aje, which operates 17 stores, said that while the collaborative efforts of the industry group have been a boon, the reality of uniting in more systemic ways was more complicated.

“Everyone is getting a kick right now and there’s definitely something in that idea of pooling together, but fashion businesses are tricky,” he said.

“Unless you find a way to significantly reduce costs to produce in Australia I don’t know how that would work. But we do need to work together to talk about opportunities to see how we can collaborate and connect.”

Other areas ripe for designer and retail collaboration, Mr Poulson said, include advertising spend and retail fronts. “The competitive nature and idea of protectionism around brand has kind of dissipated to a large degree. It’s a bit like a war room.”

The second phase of #WeWearAustralian began on Tuesday, with Afterpay competitor Klarna offering $75,000 in vouchers to stimulate retail spending.

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