Three young Australian designers, among them two QUT graduates, explored the $60 billion Korean fashion market with three up-and-coming local designers and have come back with orders and new insight into a different retail model.
Clea Garrick, and Bianca Mavrick, both QUT fashion graduates, and Alice Sutton were selected from a wide pool of applicants for the two-year revolutionary Australia-Korea Fashion Exchange program for emerging designers.
QUT Creative Industries lecturer and leader of the exchange program Melanie Finger said the visit, which coincided with Seoul Fashion Week, was part of a program to develop the international business skills of young designers from both Australia and Korea.
“Three of Korea’s emerging designers will now join us for Australia Fashion Week in May and meet leading fashion industry members and tour our retail stores,” she said.
“Korea’s market is massive compared with the $17 billion Australian industry and Koreans take fashion very seriously – it’s a huge part of the culture.
“Korea’s designers can manufacture and complete the whole process in their own country, whereas many designers here import all their textiles and trims and even the finished product.
“A highlight was the visit to the fashion manufacturing area of Kitech – it opened the eyes of our Australian designers to the manufacturing possibilities in Korea.
"Another highlight was the textile and accessories market - a complex as big as seven football fields – where textiles, clothing and trim are wholesaled and inspiration and innovative ideas begin.
“Now, through the links they have made with ethical manufacturers, they have the opportunity to have their designs made in Korea to a high standard."
Ms Finger said each designer would collaborate with a Korean counterpart to produce a product to be sold in each country.
“The Korean designers were interested to know about the Australian market and our wholesale model whereas Korea's fashion is mostly sold on consignment."
The three designers are:
- QUT fashion graduate Clea Garrick, now based in Melbourne whose Limedrop label offers a range of clothing, lingerie, and jewellery to eyewear and nail polish.
- QUT graduate Bianca Mavrick, a crafter of contemporary jewellery from sterling silver, resin and wood whose collection has been picked up by the US’s Anthropologie.
- Alice Sutton, based in Canberra, has the sustainable design label, Edition.
The Australia Korea Fashion Exchange program aims to raise designer innovation, cross cultural inspirations and international competitiveness and is funded by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, QUT and the Seoul National University.
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