SYDNEY — International Management Group has acquired the biannual Australian fashion runway event Mercedes Australian Fashion Week as well as the event’s parent company, Australian Fashion Innovators.
Australian industry sources estimate the deal could be worth “several million dollars.”
AFI is to be subsumed into a new venture called IMG Fashion Asia Pacific, with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore and Hong Kong, according to a joint statement issued by IMG Asia Pacific managing director Martin Jolly and MAFW/AFI founder and chief executive officer Simon Lock on Wednesday morning, Sydney time.
Lock has been named IMG’s managing director and his former AFI offices will be transformed into one of the four regional offices.
The deal puts IMG at the helm of not just Australia’s — and, arguably, the region’s — highest-profile fashion event, but of a number of other regional initiatives as well. After launching MAFW’s spring-summer showcase in Sydney in May 1996, AFI followed suit by adding an autumn-winter equivalent showcase in Melbourne in November 2002 — touting MAFW at the time as the world’s only bi-city fashion week.
The upcoming autumn-winter 2006 showcase, which runs Oct. 26-28 at Federation Square, Melbourne, will be preceded by a new AFI initiative at the same venue: the inaugural Asia Pacific Fashion Forum, Oct. 24-25. Numerous Asia Pacific retail and luxury executives, including representatives from Lane Crawford, Three on the Bund and Shanghai Tang, will speak at the event, in addition to Los Angeles-based Australian designer Richard Tyler, who will discuss Asia-Pacific expansion plans for his new Tyler by Richard Tyler line.
Other Australian Fashion Innovators interests included in the acquisition are Australia’s premier young fashion competition, Mercedes-Benz Startup, which scouts fledgling fashion talent from four Australian states and New Zealand, as well as Singapore’s Mercedes-Benz Asia Fashion Award, which operates a similar scouting program in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and Indonesia.
AFI also has a long-term contract to produce and market the Singapore Fashion Festival and recently opened a Singapore office to oversee that event, as well as oversee new regional fashion initiatives that are currently in development in India, China and Japan.
“The formation of IMG Fashion Asia Pacific is consistent with our long-term goals of owning, operating and/or representing many of the world’s top fashion events,” said Jolly in the statement. “The events and territories are a perfect fit with the fashion businesses we have been building over the years.”
Launched in 1993 to produce and market MAFW, AFI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lock’s Sydney-based marketing specialist umbrella group of companies, The Lock Group. Lock Group also owns youth marketing agency Spin Communications; the world’s largest short film festival, Tropfest, and television/video production company Propellor Productions.