For countries that once followed trends led by Europe and North America, Australia and New Zealand have both contributed some major heat to the fashion landscape in recent years, fostering the talent of emerging designers and celebrating the successes of those making waves in the global market.
Neither country has the illustrious portfolios of luxury houses that Europe and North America do, nor are they priority markets for big brands, so often they’re the last to receive new products and, if you can believe it, hype sneaker launches are more challenging than hitting on SNKRS.
But being an afterthought to the big players means that our local designers exist outside the echo chamber of the northern hemisphere — and therein lies an advantage. Designers down under are unafraid of pushing the bounds a little further, which often results in pieces and collections far more compelling than what’s being wheeled out overseas.
What follows is my roundup of the local brands I’m constantly inspired by and the ones I think the world should be paying attention to.
Dion Lee has forged a new path for Australian design, since the label's launch in 2009. Rooted deeply in experimental design and architectural silhouettes, Lee continues to evolve each season through the use of technical materials and bold construction — but the brand’s DNA remains consistent. It’s always innovative, it’s always sculptural, and it’s always sensual. But it’s also always balanced.
Maintaining this delicate balance between bold aesthetic and luxury has meant that Lee’s runway looks are regularly featured in editorial spreads, in music videos, on red carpets, and at the club. Sure, Dion Lee boasts a healthy following of celebrities including Dua Lipa and Kylie Jenner, but more recently, the label has become a cult designer among youth culture, thanks to his new genderless line that has been seen on everyone from Jacob Elordi and Lil Nas X to Hunter Schafer and Troye Sivan.
Check out Dion Lee here.
The creative duo behind Entire Studios have an impressive CV. Coming from a styling background, Sebastian Hunt and Dylan Richards cut their teeth styling for brands and editorial in New Zealand before catching the eye of Kanye West. This led to a career in LA where the duo styled for both Kanye and the Yeezy brand overall, across shows, lookbooks, and other projects.
Fast forward to now, Hunt and Richards have channeled their experience behind the scenes to launch Entire Studios in an effort to bridge the gaps between design, quality, function, and accessibility. The result tracks. Entire Studio’s first release came in the form of their PFD Puffer Jacket; available in three colourways, the piece saw numerous restocks due to high demand and has been worn by the likes of Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Lil Nas X, and BROCKHAMPTON’s Kevin Abstract. Even Stormi Jenner managed to get her tiny hands on a custom piece from the boys.
Stay tuned for the next release from Entire Studios, expected to drop very soon and set to include a fresh take on the puffer silhouette as well as a vest, fleece hoodie, and several women's pieces.
Check out Entire Studios here.
P.A.M. (Perks and Mini) has been around since 2000, when designers Shauna Toohey and Misha Hollenbach started the label as an evolving collaboration between the duo, their friends, and likeminded creatives. Since launching, the brand has amassed a cult following around the world and has a brunch of impressive collabs under their belt, most recently with Neighborhood, Vans, and cycling brand MAAP.
In a bid to spread joy amongst the chaos and uncertainty of the pandemic, P.A.M. teamed up with artist and longterm collaborator Cali Thornhill DeWitt to launch A Positive Message. Outside of clothing and accessories, the project also has a blog made up of contributions from friends in any form that celebrate positivity, community spirit, and joy.
For their FW21 collection, Goodlife, Perks and Mini has its sights set on sustainability. Using recycled polyester, organic cottons, and up-cycled deadstock and hidden meanings in logos to create a story that symbolizes a return to a future of hope, change, and action. As always, boundaries of gender do not apply; stepping into P.A.M.’s universe feels like wearing the future.
Check out P.A.M. here.
Australia’s homegrown answer to luxury resortwear comes courtesy of Richard Jarman’s label, COMMAS. Think silk shirting, loose linen lounge pants, and the perfect camp collar shirts, COMMAS is perfect for lounging poolside in Byron Bay and feeling luxurious while doing so.
Clearly inspired by a vintage Euro aesthetic, it makes sense that the brand sources materials from Europe. One mill in particular has been in operation since 1839, where traditional fabric weaving techniques have been passed down through multiple generations.
One of the best parts: COMMAS’ warranty and recycling program guarantees their swimwear is equally timeless and high quality. In an effort to reduce seasonal consumption and eliminate landfill, the brand will repair or replace swimwear that doesn’t stand the test of time. More of this please.
Check out COMMAS here.
Hawaiian shirts got completely reimagined when Aussie label Double Rainbouu hit the market in 2016.
Designers Mikey Nolan and Toby Jones have gone against the idyllic vision of resortwear to create Double Rainbouu. From season to season, you’ll find a consistent offering of silhouettes emblazoned with vibrant prints designed in-house by Nolan and Jones.
Outside of the Hawaiian shirts, they’ve launched DR Sleep, a range of colorful sleep styles making it that much easier to go from bed to beach, and more recently, PARTY PANTS; high rise, straight leg denim in prints just as wild as the now classic shirts.
With pieces bound to have you standing out on your next vacay, catch me in a full Double Rainbouu look at a beach near you this summer.
Check out Double Rainbouu here.
Wynn Hamlyn is another Kiwi brand not to be slept on. Having found success with his womenswear, Wynn Hamlyn launched the menswear line of his eponymous label in 2020. Now three seasons in, Wynn continues to explore a fresh take on classic mens’ silhouettes, fusing traditional cuts with crafty details and interesting design cues across each collection.
Highlights consistently include the brand’s signature knitwear and fleece pieces. From season to season, the collections at first glance are refined. Like, really refined. But when you do a double take, you begin to notice details like double sleeved shirting and zip pockets that elevate each piece from something ordinary.
Wynn’s experimental approach to design has put him on the map down under, and I’m expecting it won’t be long before the rest of the world pays attention.
Check out Wynn Hamlyn here.
Recently returning to Australia after graduating from Central Saint Martins, Jordan Dalah is a star on the rise, pouring his creativity and technical prowess into a label that shapes 16th century costume into fashions for a contemporary wardrobe. Dalah’s designs draw particular reference from the Tudor era — using balloon sleeves, draping, and volume to create the flowy, voluminous silhouettes evident throughout his collections to date.
Since opening his label in 2018, Dalah’s DNA as a designer has continued to cement him as one to watch. So it’s no wonder he was bestowed the honor of opening this year's Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, where he presented all 43 looks of his SS22 collection to much fanfare at home and abroad.
Check out Jordan Dalah here.
Holiday The Label
The Australian sunshine clearly serves as an endless source of inspiration for Emma Mulholland when designing Holiday The Label. In her second fashion project, Mulholland is serving up threads that remind me of childhood family vacations. Key pieces include the logo cap, slogan sweaters, and multiple co-ord variations.
Holiday’s kitschy designs are perfectly timed for the wave of Y2K nostalgia dominating the wardrobes of Gen Z and taking TikTok by storm, so it’s no wonder key pieces have already been worn by the likes of Gigi Hadid and Hailey Bieber.
One thing’s for sure: If your parents were to visit Australia and bring back a Holiday sweatshirt, that’s a souvenir that’s bound to earn you some fashion clout.
Check out Holiday The Label here.
Song For The Mute
Lifelong friends Melvin Tanaya and Lyna Ty are the designers behind luxury label Song For The Mute, which has amassed a loyal global following and a stockist list of luxury retailers worldwide since its launch in 2010.
Known for their long-form storytelling, the design duo consider each season an expressive new chapter. Of note is the duo’s knack for engaging local artists and fellow storytellers to lend their art — from illustrators whose work is printed onto fabrics or sculptors whose work might inform the next season, each collection incorporates new voices to tell narratives through beautiful fabrics and experimental crafts.
As a brand, Song For The Mute proudly creates pieces that maybe aren’t seen as beautiful at first. For Melvin and Lyna, things need to be off to work. And it’s paid off — evidently, their vision for providing a voice for the voiceless has played out to much success.
Check out Song For The Mute here.
What began in 2012 as a series of parties in Sydney soon grew to a cult institution with global reach for DIY brand and record label Pelvis. After gaining notoriety for their street posters and attracting international talent such as Venus X and Lovefingers, Pelvis began printing T-shirts that took on a life of their own and have helped cement the brand as a staple amongst the Australian streetwear set.
Designers Elliot Shields and Nick Amezdroz are busy outside of Pelvis, too. Nick co-runs Worldwind Worldwide and Elliott is a frequent collaborator of New York based Aussie expat Ava Nirui, recently contributing designs for Marc Jacobs’ new line, Heaven.
Check out Pelvis here.
Started in 2016, Jody Just is the product of Parsons graduate Roman Jody. Starting with DIY streetwear staples and custom upcycled pieces that caught the eye of the rap crew, Jody Just has continued to evolve since Roman’s return to Sydney.
After previously focusing on small drops and capsule collections, 2021 has seen Jody Just release its first fall collection. Outside of the brand’s now famous custom cowboy hats and jeans — seen on the likes of Post Malone, Swae Lee, and Danny Green — Candy Flip focuses on cut and sew designer products and customization at scale.
At the core of Jody Just, though, is the underground aesthetic and punk sensibility that’s been there since the brand’s beginnings in New York’s Lower East Side.
Check out Jody Just here.
When Jack Manning Bancroft launched AIME Mentoring in 2005, his intention was to bridge the worlds of privilege and systematic disadvantage by supporting First Nations students through high school and into university.
It’s since become the largest education support service for marginalized students in Australia; along the way, new initiatives were introduced. AIME Apparel is a platform to showcase Indigenous art and the creativity of Indigenous children to an audience that may not be exposed to it otherwise, through a range of T-shirts and hoodies.
All profits from AIME Apparel go back into funding the work AIME does for the imagination of marginalized kids and their vision for a fairer world.
Check out AIME Apparel here.
For designers Larz Harry and Aida Kim, creativity was always the pursuit, with the pair studying Textile Design and Photography respectively. It was during their careers at Dover Street Market and Comme des Garçons that the now husband and wife duo met and bonded over design and quality fabrics.
In 2015, the pair left their careers and lives in Tokyo for Australia with MAN-TLE up their sleeve, and in 2016, the brand’s first range, R1, was launched with three variations of the now-signature Shirt 1. It’s a long-sleeved, loose-fitting shirt made from a custom wax cotton developed and woven by a small family-run cotton mill in Japan.
Season after season, MAN‑TLE invests heavily in fabric development, and the brand continues to fuse Australia’s penchant for workwear with quality Japanese milled fabrics. Five years on, Shirt 1 still exemplifies the MAN-TLE ethos: to focus on achieving quality in individual products.
Check out MAN-TLE here.
When Courtney Holm set out to launch A.BCH in 2017, circular fashion was top of mind. In an effort to reshape the way people buy, wear, and discard clothing, A.BCH defied the path laid out by “sustainable” brands before it, opting instead to create a label where TMI is key and the reward is a lifetime of love.
Designing for a future where nothing is wasted can’t be an easy task, but A.BCH is so committed to the cause that their model borders on being too transparent. The origin of every thread, fibre, and button used to produce an A.BCH piece can be accounted for, and they don’t follow typical retail pricing, because they’d “never want to price people out of making a difference.”
Deservedly, A.BCH has been commended for its efforts on the sustainability front, recently taking home the 2021 Australian Fashion Laureate award for sustainable innovation. The brand offers customers lifetime repairs on all garments, encouraging them to value each piece, care for it, and extend its lifespan. More of this please!
Check out A.BCH here.
A relative newcomer to the scene, Joseph Carl is focused on creating an elevated menswear offering by merging the worlds of streetwear and luxury. Inspired initially by tailoring, Carl incorporates a directional edge throughout his collections to ensure each piece holds a stylish nuance. Distressed knits and boxy jackets are highlights, but the hero comes in the form of the Stack Trouser.
As with many emerging Australian brands, Joseph Carl is committed to local manufacturing and ensuring minimal waste by producing to order as much as possible and using local factories to create high-quality products at an affordable price. Gearing up for the launch of his fourth season, Joseph Carl is one to keep track of.
Check out Joseph Carl here.