By  on April 1, 2014

SYDNEY — Due to a soft retail market and unprecedented competition from international retailers, a raft of Australian fashion labels have closed their doors over the past two years — while others, such as Zimmermann and Sass & Bide, are focussing marketing efforts on the runways of New York as they power ahead both locally and internationally.

The end result for next week’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia is a little less Oz fashion establishment than usual — while more than half of the 72 brands on the schedule are up-and-coming names.

Here, a look at some of the newbies:


RACHEL ALEX

Sydney sisters Rachel and Alex Sims graduated from the city’s Whitehouse Institute of Design and the College of Fine Arts, respectively, in 2012, before travelling to London. There, Alex, a fashion designer, interned for Swash, while Rachel, a textile and print specialist, interned for Mary Katrantzou and Peter Pilotto.

On April 10, the duo will show their first commercial collection as part of the group New Generation show. “The Lost Wanderer” is a 17-piece collection of fused silk organza dresses and separates featuring A-line silhouettes and hand-pleating, with all garments boasting the brand’s signature engineered digital prints — in this collection’s case, inspired by European art galleries.

The duo’s highly labor-intensive approach sees each print designed specifically to the shape of the garment. “The print might curve around the shape of the hem, a few garments have curved hems,” said Alex. “Every print on each garment is unique to the garment and not repeated at all, which is good I think because every piece is unique.”


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