Lisa Aiken is the fashion director at online luxury fashion retailer Net-a-Porter. She’s responsible for guiding the buying for clothing and accessories – basically, she’s influential. It’s the beginning of the international Resort calendar, and we nabbed her during her stay in Sydney last week for MBFWA to ask for her thoughts on Australian fashion, and what MBFWA’s move to the Resort schedule means for international buyers.
Broadsheet: How does the UK see Australian fashion?
Lisa Aiken: There is a sense, globally, that so many young and interesting designers are coming from less established markets and this has definitely been encouraged by the talent emerging from Australia. For the Net-a-Porter woman, it’s about finding something new that isn’t overly exposed.
I took several Ellery looks to a trunk show in Dubai last year, alongside the likes of Alexander McQueen, Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana, and was thrilled by how much attention the looks received from our customers. I think it is undeniable that social media has been a huge influence in creating this shift, by providing designers with a new platform. Both the industry and customers are using these channels as sources of research and inspiration.
BS: Has your impression of Australian fashion changed over the years? How so?
LA: I think there is a misconception that Australia has a very casual aesthetic. From what I saw at fashion week, there is a very appealing ease to how women put a look together but there is also a love of very interesting and elevated design alongside designer collections. This individual approach to dressing is evident, whether it be Margaret Zhang’s directional layering, Kym Ellery’s modern minimalism or Pip Edwards’ sporty streetwear.
BS: What were your favourite shows?
LA: Net-a-Porter favourites Tome and Dion Lee both delivered fantastic shows, filled with the pieces we know and love. Other highlights included the Romance Was Born show, which was so beautifully staged. Georgia Alice and PE Nation are definitely ones to watch, while Rebecca Vallance looked very accomplished and ready for international growth.
BS: What do you think the move from Australian fashion showing SS to Resort means for international buyers?
LA: The shift to showing in line with the international Resort calendar makes perfect sense for attracting international retailers and global interest. From a commercial standpoint, internationally, Resort is also the biggest opportunity, as it has the longest selling period on a shop floor, and therefore stronger sell-throughs. This is the case with several of the Australian brands we currently work with; Zimmermann, Camilla, Tome and Michael Lo Sordo have all grown their businesses substantially over the years through producing Resort collections.
BS: What are international buyers looking to Australian designers for?
LA: I am looking for new brands with a strong aesthetic. Fashion is very saturated and so fast at the moment, it’s crucial to deliver something that no one else has in order to stand out. For a new brand to catch my eye, I need to be able to easily and immediately identify their brand DNA and exactly who their customer is.