Adelaide is often brushed aside when people are contemplating places ripe with innovative styling and a thriving fashion industry. In comparison to Melbourne, where every second store is an immaculately curated vintage/retro/indie fashion boutique, and entering one is akin to stepping into an interior design display room (albeit with decidedly more industrial cement, exposed brick, rustic lighting and a precisely placed indoor plant), Adelaide’s fashion culture appears to be lacking. Contrasting to this perception, South Australia is in fact home to a range of both nationally and internationally recognised designers, labels and fashion houses with great talent emanating from our small city of churches.
Adelaide is home to various acclaimed designers and labels that include such as brands as Australian Fashion Labels (which houses Keepsake, Finders Keepers, C/MEO Collective, The Fifth and Jagger), Acler, R.M. Williams, The Wolf Gang, Cinquante The Label and many more. Adelaide is also home to internationally acclaimed couturier Paolo Sebastian, whose founder and designer Paul Vasileff ensured all elements of his label (including manufacturing) were conducted in Adelaide.
Each year South Australia hosts the Adelaide Fashion Festival, where both established and up-and-coming designers showcase their latest work over five days. Celebrated are dynamic stylings, with cascades of beautiful fabrics adorning our South Australian models. In turn, these models don remarkable hair and makeup styles, all captured by our local photography talent. It’s the biggest fashion event of the year for South Australia and draws international interest, although caters minimally to the mainstream youth with their small bank accounts and minimal interest in high fashion.
In the ‘fashion capital of Australia’ (a.k.a. Melbourne) the youth have developed a culture that incorporates style into their way of life. The prominence of fashion subcultures in Melbourne encourages everyone to develop and refine their own individual style, and the industry there promotes experimentation with various styles, looks, pieces, accessories etc. In Adelaide accessibility to styles, brands and stores which offer unique and different pieces seems to be limited. Stores are behind trends yes, but more importantly, the youth are struggling to find businesses which offer them unique styling options specific to their taste. This lack of widespread originality in South Australia’s fashion industry means that our youth are increasingly turning to the internet to browse and order their clothing, accessories and footwear, decreasing our industry here.
It’s not that Adelaide is lacking in range within the fashion industry but it is all very authentic, and hence, somewhat hidden. To assist you all in your shopping escapades we’ve collated a list of our favourite style markets.
Flinders Street Market
Not a whole lot in the way of clothes but a lovely market atmosphere with DELICIOUS food and usually live music.
When: Saturday and Sunday 10am-3pm
Where: 230 Flinders St, Adelaide SA 5000
Gilles Street Market
What started off as a cosy little market hosted within a school on Gilles Street in 2008, these markets have grown to now be a leading contributor to the South Australian fashion scene. Presenting a combination of new and second-hand clothing and accessories the stalls regularly differ so you never know what you’ll find.
When: 10am – 4pm, check the website as dates differ
Where: The Old Brick Dairy, South Boulevard, Wayville (Adelaide Showgrounds)
Round She Goes Market
A market containing a range of vintage and retro pieces, Round She Goes Market is held on selected dates throughout the year. There are always terrific bargains on offer and the vibe is nice and relaxed.
When: (next one) 4th August 2018
Where: German Club Hall, 223 Flinders Street, Adelaide
We were able to snag an interview with one of the leading fashion houses in South Australia who have gained international acclaim for their innovative yet crisp and beautiful designs.
- Do you believe Adelaide population has a general type of ‘style’ and how would you describe it?
Adelaide is a very outward thinking city and I think that is reflected in our sense of style. People are inspired by international fashion, but at the same time there is a strong support for local designers – including our brands! Also you often see people gravitating towards vintage / sustainable fashion.
- Do you believe that Adelaide has a generalised style which is showcased within youth culture?
Youth culture in particular are very expressive here in Adelaide. Again, influenced by genre and trend – I feel that our youth are confident in their style, whether it be street, vintage, skate, grunge or more aligned with current trends.
- Often the Adelaide fashion industry/culture is regarded as substandard when compared to other Australian cities such as Melbourne and Sydney. Do you think this perception is true?
Not at all. Whilst Adelaide is smaller, I think there is certainly quality over quantity in Adelaide. Alongside our brands, we have young design talent in the like of Acler, Paolo Sebastian and more. I think these days Adelaide’s culture as well as its fashion industry is growing and competing with the eastern cities.
- In what ways do you think fashion culture thrives in South Australia and how do you think this culture could be further developed?
Perhaps being a slightly smaller city, we are open minded and people have confidence to express themselves through fashion. I think this is still developing and having events in Adelaide certainly helps. Recently we had our first Vogue event in Rundle Mall and the activations were incredibly successful. The Adelaide Fashion Festival and other local fashion festivals are also strongly supported and as long as the state continues to commit to these events, fashion culture will continue to grow and thrive.
- How did your label develop into a international enterprise and in what ways did South Australia influence the success of the company?
Having always been head quartered in SA, we were really able to grow. Given the challenges of cash flow and international growth, Adelaide provides a stable home where the cost of living and operating a business is lower. We also continue to receive strong support from the state government as well as other local businesses who are like minded and offer mutual support. Further, there is exciting creative talent in Adelaide and our close relationship with TAFE allows us access to fashion graduates. Given where we are at today, there are some challenges with recruitment at a senior level, where specific expertise and experience need to be sought and attracted from overseas. However, we feel that the Adelaide lifestyle is very appealing, and by recruiting internationally, we hope to attract even more talent to Adelaide!
- What do you think the South Australian government can do to encourage South Australian designers and entrepreneurs to start up labels, stores, and develop new niche markets?
I guess that entrepreneurship comes with many challenges and demands courage – as well as cashflow! Whatever the state government can do to make these challenges less risky or daunting for entrepreneurs will help. At the same time we need to breed an industry of innovation and attract a next level of talent and professionals to Adelaide. It really is a great city to base a young business with international vision and ambition.
- How do you think the Adelaide population, specifically the youth, can be encouraged to further develop their own individual style?
Be inspired! Whether it is through travel, Instagram, music or art – keep being open minded! Also be budget conscious, follow trends – but with a focus on longevity when shopping – it needs to be a balance of shopping for shape and inherent style, whilst still acknowledging current trends!