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

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Australian Fashion Week reveals four designers to watch

Afterpay Australian Fashion Week (AAFW) has announced the four winners of its emerging designer program, Next Gen.

IMG Fashion Events and Properties APAC MD Natalie Xenita confirmed the winners will debut their collections at AAFW on May 19.  

“This year’s winners are shaping the future of Australian fashion by pushing boundaries with their designs and sparking important conversation around sustainability, inclusivity and more. I’m very much looking forward to seeing each of them make their debut on the runway this May at AAFW.”

The Next Gen prize is valued at over $100,000 and includes runway show production, a content package including runway photography and global livestream, and international shipping credits provided by DHL.

The four winning designers also receive industry networking opportunities and exposure to AAFW’s attending buyers.

Established in 1996, Next Gen winners have included Akira, Anna Quan, Camilla and Marc, Bec and Bridge and Sass and Bide. 

The 2023 winners are: 

Cameron Hill: Founded in 2021, Cameron Hill’s eponymous brand draws on handmade textures and machine knitting, with knitwear-focused collections featuring knitted lacework and geometric patterning. 

Liandra Swim: Launched in 2018 by Liandra Gaykamangu, a Yolngu woman from North-East Arnhem land, the swimwear label is inspired by contemporary Aboriginal Australian culture and features signature prints. 

Ruby Pedder: Ruby Pedder debuted in 2021 with a proposition for “casual couture” that blends womenswear with wearable art. 

Xi Wu Studio: Designer Xizhu Wu founded Xi Wu Studio in 2021 to design clothes that blend Eastern and Western garment techniques. 

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