Three major innovations at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2022


A model on the runway during the Adaptive Clothing Collective fashion show at Australian Fashion Week 2022. Source: AAP/James Gourley

It’s hardly been fashion as usual at this year’s Australian Fashion Week, with world-firsts, tech integration, and diversity galore strutting down the runways at the chic event.

With controversial buy now, pay later giant Afterpay as the major sponsor, the week of fashion heavyweights was always going to be anything but dull.

Here are three ways it moved the needle (mind the pun).

A world-first fashion trademark

Expect to see the newly-minted “Australian Fashion™” trademark next time you’re shopping overseas. The industry certification is the brainchild of the peak body for the Australian fashion and textile industry Australian Fashion Council (AFC).

For brands to become certified, they must tick two of the following bosses: demonstrating a contribution to jobs and the local economy, Australian made, Australian owned, majority Australian employees, and/or Australian tax domiciled.

AFC CEO Leila Naja Hibri says she hopes Australian fashion will come to embody distinctive associations, in the way Italian fashion is known for its elegance and quality.

“We have now identified four key pillars that distinguish Australia’s Fashion DNA: effortless style, raw nature, boundless optimism and fearless innovation,” she said.

“This, together with the trademark, will help us clearly articulate the unique creativity and the progressive social and environmental values of Australian fashion on the world’s fashion stage.”

First-ever haute couture NFT

It was the collaboration no one saw coming — Australian cryptocurrency BTC Markets teamed up with Sydney-based fashion designer Daniel Avakian to launch the first-ever Australian haute couture non-fungible token (NFT).

The dress hit the runway on a real model, but also virtually in a photo-realistic hyper-real animated avatar format, with both available for immediate purchase.

Indeed BTC’s official partnership with Australian Fashion Week was the first of its kind in the world, and CEO Caroline Bowler says she hopes it’ll bond the traditionally male-dominated coin industry with the female-dominated fashion industry.

“I firmly believe that fashion NFTs purchased with cryptocurrency will help ensure an exciting new dimension and future for fashion industry participants through the symbiotic relationship between the virtual and physical regarding globally relevant real time fashion inspirations,” she said.

World-first quadriplegic fashion designer

Fashion label Christina Stephens is making history with boundary-smashing adaptive clothing for men and women living with short or long-term disabilities — accounting for more than 20% of the country.

For the first time, Australian Fashion Week showcased her designs in the Adaptive Clothing Collective, which also included designs from JAM the Label, with magnetic buttons, zip-up shoes and temperature-control fabrics on the runway.

Christina Stephens was founded by Brisbane-based former energy-expert-turned-fashion-designer Jessie Sadler two years ago, and the brand has since quadrupled its retail revenue, grown its wholesale and drop-shipping revenue by 300%, and is now selling at major online retailer The Iconic.

“We have plus-sized fashion in retail, we have maternity, we have so many other categories … one in five Australians has a disability, where are they represented in mainstream fashion?” Christina Stephens’ designer Carol Taylor asked.


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