The Future of the Australian Fashion Industry

According to an article on the Business of Fashion there was a decline in Australia’s fashion industry since 2009. The level of domestic consumer demand in the Australian fashion industry valued in excess of $10 billion per annum is predicted to be relatively flat over the next few years.  Over 40% of this demand is accounted for by direct imports.  But Roy Morgan reports that for the period April 2012-March 2013, Australians spent $2.65 billion on online shopping for fashion product.
Reasons for the industry slowdown
The reasons given for the slump of the Australian Fashion industry is threefold:
Invasion of foreign retailers
The opening of international fashion giants across Australia has posed a grave threat to local fashion houses. An example of this reality is the opening of H&M, a Swedish retail giant, in Melbourne. Clothes from these foreign retailers are sold so cheaply since they are also manufactured cheap and local fashion houses are hard pressed to compete. The Australian Fashion industry is made up of a few large retailers while the large majority involves small independent players many of which adhere to the slow fashion movement advocacy. They produce quality and long-lasting garments using eco-friendly materials and observe fair trade practices. But all these come with a premium making it difficult for them to compete price-wise with large foreign retail chains.

Expensive real estate
Australia is experiencing a pseudo-property bubble, meaning real estate prices are at an all-time high. A Macro Business article reported that the cost of vacant lots have increased by 150% over the last ten years.  The high property cost spilled over to commercial real estate,boosting rent that is becoming a heavy burden to small fashion retailers.
Other production and operating problems
Financing shortage to pay suppliers and workers on time, lack of skilled workers, high cost of labor, and difficulty in sourcing and high cost of natural materials are only a few of the woes that beset the local fashion industry.
The cloud has a silver lining
Despite the ominous cloud that’s hovering over the local fashion industry, the good news is, the cloud is lined with silver. There are existing conditions, new developments and untapped resources that have the potential to save the industry.
Government support
The Australian Government has made positive moves to increase support the local textile and clothing industry. These moves are meant to boost global competitiveness and awareness for Australian fashion, encourage investment in technology innovation and development to lessen the cost of production, and promote excellence through training and education.
Keeping it small and manageable
The industry mix of a few large entities and the great majority made up of small independent players is turning out to be a big advantage to the industry. The small shops offer unique and specially designed clothing that maybe a bit pricier, but definitely longer lasting and of better quality than what large retail stores offer. Service in these small shops is at most times personalized, usually by the owner or of workers who love and are thoroughly familiar with the products. Since these small shops are spread all over the country, they are able to capture the local market.
Exploring the e-market
The internet has provided Australian fashion designers and small retailers a level playing field with the huge conglomerate. With relatively minimal cost, a local clothing store can reach out to a global market without having to put up a branch overseas. Online shopping has become so popular that a small shop’s potential market has grown bigger.