Behind the partnership: Melbourne Fashion Festival and Kmart

The Paypal Melbourne Fashion Festival (MFF) is partnering with Kmart this year to introduce two new events to the schedule, including a business lunch and family runway show.

In an interview with Ragtrader, Melbourne Fashion Festival CEO Caroline Ralphsmith discusses the key factors that led to the organisation partnering with the Australian department store known for its low price points.

How did this collaboration with Kmart come about?

As Australia’s largest and longest running consumer Festival, we are committed to showcasing fashion in all its forms. Whilst our core focus as a not-for-profit organisation is to support and amplify our Australian fashion and creatives on a local, national, and global stage via our premium runways and within the Fashion Culture program, we also want to ensure that the Festival proudly champions the positive representation of our diverse fashion community.

The Festival has a history of partnering with consumer brands including Priceline and Target to provide an accessible, fun and interactive event for the whole family. Kmart is one of Australia’s most loved and trusted brands that has become a destination for millions of Australian families to access affordable everyday products, including sustainably sourced fashion apparel.

What were the key steps in executing this deal?

A core element of the Festival’s overarching strategy is to ensure we support the wider industry in making fashion feel accessible to every potential customer. We develop our program with all consumers in mind and want to ensure we offer an experience that appeals to every type of fashion lover.

For the 2023 Festival, we were looking for a partner that would help us reach new audiences, but that also shared the Festival’s values of having a keen focus on sustainability, manufacturing and policies around diversity and inclusion. We feel we found this with Kmart and admire the work they have done, and continue to do to reduce the fashion industry’s negative impact on the planet. We know we all have a long way to go in this space and there is much work to be done, but we felt this partnership could help us progress a meaningful conversation around these important topics.

It was also really important to us to have a family runway as one of the events as part of our 109-event strong program at this year’s Festival, and we felt Kmart were the perfect partner to help us bring this to life. Not only do they help us reach a new customer, but also ensure that everyone – families included – can feel welcome to come to the Festival.

Is this partnership expected to continue in the coming years?

We are very excited to be partnering with Kmart in 2023 for the first time to deliver The Fashion Business Lunch and Family Runway, presented by Kmart. We will work collaboratively with Kmart, as we do all our Festival partners, to discuss the potential evolution of our partnership at the conclusion of the 2023 Festival.

Will this change the structure or image of Melbourne Fashion Festival?

PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival is, and always has been, an annual celebration of Australian fashion, arts, ideas, and creative endeavour for everyone to enjoy. In 2023 it presents 9-days and more than 100 events including premium runways featuring Australia’s most loved designers, shopping events and experiences, styling and beauty workshops, industry seminars, networking events, exhibitions, live entertainment and much more.

Our vision remains to consistently deliver an unrivalled, world-class major event that celebrates and elevates every aspect of fashion and creativity. We always aim to balance the aspirational with relatable and fun experiences that ensure every potential consumer feels welcome at the Festival.

The Festival also proudly continues to foster the work of new and emerging local creative talent via its Industry Development Programs, including the celebrated National Graduate Showcase and acclaimed National Designer Award presented by David Jones, providing viable career pathways for our emerging design talent and unprecedented industry access for the creation of a sustainable Australian fashion industry.

This year we have reinforced our commitment to heroing sustainability and industry development through workshops and seminars that show consumers how to make their own clothes, recycle and upcycle garments and reduce waste.

The Fashion Business Lunch and Family Runway, presented by Kmart, are two new events within the Festival program will play a key role in supporting the Festival and reflecting its ethos around making fashion accessible for a wider audience and showcasing fashion in all its forms.

The Fashion Business Lunch presented by Kmart aims to gather the fashion community together to start a new conversation about the Future of Fashion. It is an opportunity to showcase organisations leading the charge in today’s climate across a range of key business topics critical to securing a strong, vibrant and sustainable future for Australian fashion.

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