More and more Australia is becoming recognised around the world for its resort collections (also known as holiday wear or cruise collections). Resort wear – with its beachy aesthetic, which is woven into our designer DNA and influenced by our relaxed coastal lifestyle and unpretentious attitude – is fast becoming a leading category here and further afield. And international retailers love that this style of dressing performs well long after summer is over.
“The impression that Australia was only about swimwear and summer has definitely shifted,” says Elizabeth von der Goltz, Net-a-Porter’s global buying director. “We are seeing some great elevated basics and luxe daywear brands come out of the [Australian] market and perform extremely well.”
“I think Australian designers are very clever in dishing up our culture for the overseas market,” says the Melbourne-born, Paris-based designer Lucy Folk, whose Playa boutique in Sydney's Bondi offers the definition of resort wear: Moroccan-made kaftans, fun accessories and robes for summer lounging. “People from all around the world fall in love when they come to Bondi Beach – there aren’t that many major cities in the world attached to breathtaking beaches, and so giving customers a piece of this in our design is key.”
Broadsheet has singled out the resort arrivals to invest in this summer, or to shelve until your next mid-year trip to warmer climates. Across the collections we’ve seen designers show more skin, bring back one-piece swimsuits, and continue to embrace linen. And white is the key colour.
Friends Paris Mitchell and Georgia Cherrie founded their label in 2015 in New Zealand while running their online vintage store, The Mercantile. The label is all about sophisticated, modern, elevated basics. The label’s first ever resort collection involves ’90s-style silk slip dresses (your ultimate suitcase essential this season) and classic blazers for cooler nights. Off-centre shirting sits beside on-trend wide-brimmed bucket hats, trench-style white dresses and fun mini dresses.
The two-toned, fitted Maya slip with black and ivory panels is high on our list.
“This collection is the hypothetical closet made up of all the best pieces from my ancestors,” said founding designer Kym Ellery in an official statement. “I wanted to re-imagine each garment in a modern way and re-interpret them for the woman of today.” Known for voluminous silhouettes and unexpected cuts and shapes, Ellery has tapped into the recent popularity of milk-maid-style sleeves in this collection via her “Heritage” Puff Sleeve dress and Puff Sleeve ivory top. Plated gold accessories are easy to layer and have the same architectural shapes as Ellery’s clothing.
Albus Lumen is the talk of the town after winning Best Emerging Designer at the Australian Laureate awards in Sydney last month. The Pablo/Paloma resort 2019 collection is filled with suitcase essentials and is an ode to Picasso, with rich earthy colours, such as terracotta and caramel, balanced with European accents including silk head scarves.
Lumen has a trans-seasonal approach to resort. The collection includes soft suiting and one-piece silk sets styled with leather bucket hats, which are due to arrive in the coming weeks. Long-time friend and collaborator Ryan Storer has also been involved, helping to design a jewellery collection in precious metals and aged brass.
No resort report would be complete without Zimmermann, a womenswear pioneer that taught the world to sit up and pay attention to Australian beachwear in 1991. This collection features a more relaxed sophistication compared with the cocktail-style attire of Zimmermann’s previous resort seasons; it’s filled with softly dyed sheer cottons and sharp linens.
Finding a muse in American actress and ’70s fashion icon Anjelica Huston, the collection signals that the work of a human hand has been at play across crafty silk-chiffon dresses, playsuits and jumpsuits, cotton and linen beach cover-ups tied at the waist with ropes, stretch-denim skirts, and strapless dresses.
Minimalist swimwear specialist Matteau (pronounced “mat-oh”) has brought waist-lines higher for resort 2018, with boy-leg briefs sitting below crop tops in floral prints. Designed between Sydney and New York, Matteau’s classic shapes and contemporary, clean lines are universally flattering.
The Plunge Mailout shows the one-piece is here to stay (according to Net-a-Porter’s global buyer Elizabeth von der Goltz the style is outpacing bikinis in sales for the first time in years). And you can wear it for more than swimming; these one-pieces double as leotards – pair it with denim cut offs or linen trousers.
Sarah Jane Clarke
Four years since leaving the label she founded with Heidi Middleton, Sass & Bide, Sarah Jane Clarke returns to the rag trade with a new travel-inspired luxury label. While this is not a resort collection as such, these introductory pieces are the ultimate building blocks for any solid summer wardrobe. The pieces in this collection are made with natural linens (from family-run mills in Italian villages) in soft colours such as moss green and creamy ivory, as well as animal prints.
Melbourne label White Story is known for cutting through the clutter with minimalist, well-designed wardrobe staples such as flared pants and soft shirts. Its recent all-white resort collection continues in that vein and features a luxury Japanese cotton blend fabric throughout, which is offset by sculptural shapes.
“In a world that is fast becoming complicated, this collection is about finding simplicity in all that we do and all that we wear,” says founding designer Fiona Myer. “We are inspired by purity, and the quiet – it’s the space between the lines that allows us to dream.”
The Norma X crop top, which has built-in cups for support and features classic White Story pleating, with a seasonal herringbone tie at the back, can be worn with the high-waisted Barbara trousers for a stand-out look at any balmy summer party.
Sir the Label
Born on Instagram in the back of an apartment in Bondi in 2014, Sir’s story began as a means to fill a hole in the wardrobes of designers Nikki Campbell and Sophie Coote. The pair struggled to find well-made, locally designed, ready-to-wear separates in natural materials that could be thrown over bathers and worn as eveningwear.
The resort 2019 drop, Pour Toutes Les Femmes, is designed for worldly women chasing the sun. Highlights include the Aya pleated knit tank, which is delicate and comes with a flattering low-scoop neckline in refreshing white. And the Alexandre one-shoulder ribbed crop. The collection’s barely there, sheer fabrics can be dressed up or down, taking you seamlessly from the beach to the city.
One of the first Australian designers to turn the classic white shirt on its head by introducing elongated sleeves, dramatic cuffs and cut-out detailing, Anna Quan is known for pushing tailoring boundaries. And the summer collection is no exception.
Standout pieces from her resort 2019 collection include the Terri Dress (which sold out soon after launching and has moved into a second production run), and the crushed, pleated Leila Dress in butter cream. Shirting has evolved into on-trend safari-style dresses, too.
This resort collection, which is slated to drop at the end of this week, takes its cues from Ancient Greek and Roman sculptures. Contoured lace reinforces the “barely there” movement taking off in the fashion world, and linen returns, allowing for a more sculptural take on simple cloth. Everyday T-shirts are reinvented with micro-seed beading.