Why Australian Fast Fashion Brands Are Better Than the Rest

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Why Australian Fast Fashion Brands Are Better Than the Rest
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When you think of global luxury fashion destinations, Australia probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind—Paris, yes, but Sydney? It’s likely not at the top of your list. However, there is one area of the industry in which Australia knocks the ball out of the park, and that’s affordable fashion labels.

While the rest of the world was enjoying the wallet-friendly luxury of a Zara or H&M on every corner, Australia received zero interest from international players in fast fashion for decades. In fact, the first Zara store didn’t open Down Under until 2011—a full 13 years after the first U.S. flagship opened—and H&M launched its first store there in 2014. Add to that the fact that neither brand delivers online in Australia yet and that the country’s first Forever 21 store just opened last year, and you can see that the fast fashion options were pretty slim.

Personally, this made for some incredibly frustrating window-shopping during my time living in Australia—there are some trends that only Zara can deliver within my budget. However, there’s been one huge advantage: Boutique, affordable fashion labels face tough competition from major mass-market brands across the United States and Europe, but Australia provides the perfect opportunity for little labels to thrive.

Couple that with a close proximity to China and India—where, let’s face it, the majority of the world’s fast fashion is manufactured—and it’s clear why Australia is a breeding ground for budget-friendly independent labels. Oh, and right now the Australian dollar is really low (US$1 buys roughly AU$1.40), making it a particularly appealing place to shop at the moment.

“Customers are looking for designers with clear brand identity, and Australia’s affordable fashion brands encompass a laid-back style that is globally on trend,” IMG Australia’s Fashion Brand and Strategy Director Emily Weight explained to us.

“We aren’t seeing customers actively seeking labels bearing the ‘made in Australia’ moniker, so the manufacturing is inconsequential,” she added.

Siham Elmawey is head designer at Cameo (arguably the country’s most successful budget brand) and agrees that the fast fashion market is hot in Australia right now: “Given Australia’s close bond with China, it does make it easier for Australian brands to manufacture there as we have a good reputation in the market. At Australian Fashion Labels [Cameo’s parent company], we also have staff on the ground in China who work closely with our vendors to ensure that they meet our standards.”

Regardless of why, the fact remains that there are dozens of cute and cheap Australian brands that you’ve never heard of but that would feel right at home in your wardrobe—so click through the gallery to shop a handful of our favorites.

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May the Label

Shop for: Pretty, flattering, wearable chiffon dresses and tops, floral skirts, and denim.

Price: $79 to $179.

Faithfull the Brand

Shop for: The pinstripe dresses, off-the-shoulder tops, and beachy basics blowing up your Instagram feed right now.

Price: $120 to $145.

Photo: Faithfull the Brand

Auguste Label

Shop for: A boho-luxe lineup of lightweight, printed maxi dresses; peasant blouses; and rompers. 

Price: $100 to $150

StyleStalker

Shop for: Modern lace dresses, slinky slips, tailored jackets, and sexy takes on new season trends.

Price: $139 to $220.

The Fifth Label

Shop for: Affordable, trend-led coats, dresses, sheer-hem skirts, and lacy playsuits. From the people who brought you Cameo, The Fifth Label is a budget-friendly place to stock up on the trending pieces not worth a major investment.

Price: $50 to $150.

Ruby Sees All

Shop for: Bohemian lace dresses, leg-split skirts, classic striped shirt dresses.

Price: $89.95 to $229.95.

Photo: Ruby Sees All

Staple the Label

Shop for: Chic cut-out dresses, structured midi skirts, matching skirt suits.

Price: $49.95 to $150

Photo: Staple the Label

StyleKeepers

Shop for: Ultra-feminine, cheap, and cheerful dresses, denim, skirts, crop tops, shirts, and accessories.

Price: $75 to $195.

Photo: StyleKeepers

Paint It Red

Shop for: Think Forever 21–style short-shorts, skater dresses, and crop tops.

Price: $29 to $89.

Photo: Paint It Red

Evil Twin

Shop for: Casual weekend clothes, including playsuits, swimwear, shift dresses, shirt dresses, and crop tops.

Price: $49 to $129.

Photo: Evil Twin

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