Interview with Michel Abeysekera

Michel Abeysekera
Michel Abeysekera

How do you see the domestic consumer demand of Australian fashion industry?

Australians love fashion. With over five major fashion events taking place across four States there is definitely a market for the business and celebration of all fashion stuff. Australia relatively a young country; its fashion scene is strong, though there is a need to clarify this sense of style within a global position – it is definitely more than swimmers and Ugg Boots! Australians like to support local designers but also love to access international brands – see the number of global brands who have recently opened stores or who send product to Australia as part of their online offering. There is a need to amplify the story behind Australia’s fashion – make it something for the local market to find easy and supportive. Australia’s designers need to work a little more on developing their story – their point of difference – especially if they are courting international consumer interest. Australian consumer continues to demonstrate well on technology front and likewise they are responsive as well and with the development of e-commerce and on-line shopping; Australian e-fashion market is one of the largest markets, globally. This creates an opportunity for local brands to take a sophisticated approach to e-fashion from an omni-channel perspective – ensuring its access is available across all the technology platforms wherever it is possible, for e.g. PC, Tablet, Mobile etc. Last year, a record of 1.2 billion units of apparel was imported in Australia. This leads to challenges for retailers and especially bricks and mortars businesses such as Australian department stores. People are shopping differently, especially when they can purchase offshore apparel brands online without paying GST. TFIA has a division to support fashion designers called the Australian Fashion Council (AFC) and its role is to promote and support Australia’s fashion industry.

China dominates 90 percent of the Australian market in textile and clothing industry and which is ahead of India and New Zealand. Besides, Australia is the high-end market for various Asian countries. Which country do you find worthy in terms of domestic imports?

Yes, China still remains dominant sourcing destination for Australia’s importers but there are other opportunities for Asian manufacturers to get a slice of that business. More recently, India, Bangladesh and Vietnam are becoming increasingly popular. What Australia’s business wants? It is a quality product at a price where they can be competitive. Sadly, many companies have negative experiences when they first begin the offshore journey, for e.g. late delivery, non-compliant or poor quality. Therefore, Australian companies tend to set up operations in their sourcing countries to deal with these issues. This creates opportunities for countries to target the offshore agencies and establish relationships.
Published on: 01/08/2012

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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