It’s Australia Day! It’s the day we celebrate the countless reasons its awesome to be an Aussie. It’s the day that many of us will settle in to listen to the hottest 100 with a snag in a blanky and a lamington chaser (for our foreign friends this means listen to a once-annual radio show of the best 100 songs of the year, eat a sausage in bread then sponge cake covered in chocolate and coconut). It’s also the day many of us will don our national costume of pluggers and a ‘wifebeater’ (flip flops and a navy tank). Yet the reality is that our home-grown fashion continues to develop and evolve. Australian designers are producing beautiful, luxurious products and holding their own on fashion’s global stage.
It must be acknowledged that Australian designs tend not to be of the budget variety; an unfortunate reality of operating ‘down under’. But there are most certainly sublime finds to be found, many worth saving your hard-earned AUD’s for. With this in mind, lovely readers, I give to you: 9 Australian Fashion Icons!
Sisters Nicky & Simone Zimmerman started their namesake label in Sydney in 1991 and attribute their success to their great relationship. When establishing their ready-to-wear collection, the girls made a brave move to mix swimwear with their outfits. The move was a success and Zimmerman’s swimwear and ready-to-wear is now stocked around the world including in Barney’s, Saks, Harrods and Net-A-Porter… as well as David Jones and their independent boutiques at home. In even better news, there’s still plenty available at half price in their end of season clearance on the Zimmerman website now. A sneak peek:
1. Good Love Drape Dress $215 (from $430); 2. Drifter Scallop Frill Bikini $120 (from $240); 3. Honour Leopard Jumpsuit $260 (from $650!)
Italian-born Zampatti moved to Australia as a 9-year-old and at 24 released her first collection. The brand has cemented itself as an Australian powerhouse. It’s carried by both Myer and David Jones and has seen Zampatti snag an Order of Australia medal! Her designs are show-stoppers, combining classic with contemporary to make her a go-to for special events. The end of season sale has some epic markdowns:
1. Onyx Crepe Enmeshed Jumpsuit $416 from $789; 2. Hibiscus Brocade Hepburn Chemise $280 (From $690); 3. Pearl Georgette Cleopatra Gown $380 (from $949)
In 2001 Leona Edmiston went out on her own after previously being in partnership with Peter Morrisey. She’s grown the business significantly over the last 13 years and the brand now includes three lines for women (Leona Edmiston Frocks, a premium Limited Edition range plus a diffusion collection called Leona Edmiston Ruby) a children’s collection (Little Leona), plus shoes, handbags, jewellery, leg wear, sunglasses and a homewears collaboration with Myer. The sky’s the limit for Leona. Some current online steals:
1. Paris Dress – limited edition $439 (from $795); 2. Paulette Dress $225 (from $345); 3. Jasmine Dress $279 (from $525)
Whimsical, bright and undeniably feminine, Alannah Hill built her namesake business from humble beginnings 18 years ago before walking away from the brand last year. In her wake she leaves an incredible legacy in the home-grown fashion favourite. I don’t own a lot of Alannah Hill, but I can never resist a wander through the store to look at the detailed, girly designs and always spectacularly presented assistants. On sale now, at 60%+ off:
1. Fairy Floss Dress $147.60 (from $369); 2. Finders Keepers Belt $35.60 (from $89); 3. Sweet Like Cinnamon Dress $131.60 (from $329)
40 years after opening their first store in Sydney’s Strand Arcade, Cue truly is an Aussie Fashion Icon. Year on year, Cue collects a bucketload of reader’s choice awards for their contemporary, flattering designs. Still family owned and *nearly* exclusively made in Australia, Cue is certainly this blogger’s go-to for wear-to-work fashion. New stock arrives weekly and many pieces go just as quickly as they arrive! Occasionally you’ll pick up a few items on sale, like these:
1. Pleat Yoke Shirt $54.50 (from $109); 2. Twill Zip Front Dress $188.30 (from $269); 3. Cut Away cap sleeve top $90.30 (from $129)
Sass and Bide
I recall vividly standing in Bessie Head with a friend, circa 2000, flipping through Sass and Bide’s lookbook for the coming season. It was the first time we were seeing skinny jeans positioned as a current fashion trend. I remember scoffing at how unlikely it was to ever take off. Within the year, several weeks worth of retail wages had been emptied into two pairs of ‘Frayed Misfits’ which took pride of place in my wardrobe as acquired must-haves and the most expensive items of clothing I owned. While it’s fair to say that denim probably paid the bills in the early years, Sarah-Jane Clarke (sass) and Heidi Middleton (bide) have evolved the label to be synonymous with easy-to-wear statement pieces; from bohemian to bedazzled. Some steals in their end-of-season online sale:
1.The Inventor – metal belt $90 (from $450); 2. Too Much Information $390 (from $590); 3. With Conviction $170 (from $350)
Camilla Frank is only seven years into the Australian fashion game, but has experienced resounding success with her colourful, free-flowing, playful pieces which have wielded a spate of celebrity fans (and a spot on our list of envy-inducing instagrammers). Bright and bohemian, her pieces are not for shrinking violets. Some finds in the end of season sale:
1. Weaving Time $359 (from $599); 2. Bamboo Avenue $317 (from $529); 3. Number 88 $539 (from $899)
Raised in Port Macquarie, Samantha Wills launched her jewellery brand in 2004 when she moved to Sydney. Since then she’s gone from strength to strength, including being named ‘break out star’ by The New York Times in 2011. Her designs have been seen on Drew Barrymore, Eva Mendes, Alexandra Ambrosio, Katy Perry, Pink and more. In the last couple of years SW’s line has expanded to include bridal pieces as well as a selection of stationery and a collaboration with Yellowglen on a sparkling named Peacock Lane. While her brand focuses around bohemian luxury – there’s a piece for everyone in her collection. Some current online steals:
1. Love at Sunset Collar Necklace $171 (from $285); 2. It Will Rain Necklace $60 (from $150); 3. Endless Nights Turquoise Ring $72 (from $120)
Founded in 1938, the design behind Oroton can’t be attributed to just one person. Nevertheless, the brand has embedded itself as one of Australia’s most popular fashion luxuries ever since launching it’s gold mesh in 1951. The line has since successfully expanded to include lingerie, jewellery, perfume and clothing and has recently moved into South-East Asia. Oroton has wicked sales, marking the majority of the store down by 50% twice a year. Even if you’ve missed sale time, hit the Outlet on their website where you can regularly find steals like these:
1. Noble Hobo $197.50 (from $395); 2. Glamour Mesh Heel Sandal $130 (from $325); 3. Hans Silk Pocket Cardigan $118 (from $295)
While there’ll likely always be a place in the Australia Day psyche for a pair of pluggers and a wifebeater, this January 26 I’d like to suggest there’s room to acknowledge our more sophisticated fashion accomplishments too. Happy Australia Day, sublime seekers… may your beer be cold, your snags be hot and the Australian fashion bargains be with you!
What are your favourite Australian fashion brands? Tell us below!