AUSTRALIAN FASHION WEEK FOUNDER PENS MEMOIR: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia will commemorate its 20th anniversary from April 12 to 16 at Sydney’s Carriageworks and to fete the occasion Melbourne University Press is publishing a memoir by event founder Simon Lock on April 1. Written as a series of flashbacks as Lock traverses the globe in his new role as chief executive officer of the digital wholesale platform startup, “In The Front Row: How Australian Fashion Made The World Stage” charts the evolution of Australia’s most high profile fashion showcase from its May 1996 launch, initially in two tents destined for the Sydney 2000 Olympics – and whose Australian Fashion Innovators parent went on to manage fashion events across Asia Pacific and make a $7 million bid for 7th on Sixth in 2001.

“We were the mouse that roared 20 years ago,” writes Lock, whose anecdotes include an eleventh hour switch to the event’s first naming rights sponsor Mercedes-Benz after BMW allegedly demanded the first year of a five-year deal free of charge. Then there was the (declined) 300,000 Australian dollars, or $154,290 at average exchange, cash offer in 2001 to turn a blind eye to stealth tobacco marketing; the Westfield Wharf 3 spinoff venue, which he says almost crippled the event in 2003 and which saw Lock at one point divert a busload of VIP delegates until ambush marketing collateral was removed. Also, IMG’s buyout of MBFWA for $5.8 million buyout in 2005 and the eventual fallout with Lock, IMG Fashion’s Asia Pacific managing director from 2005 to 2010. The corporate suit was never a good fit, he concedes.

Also covered: Lock’s post-IMG consulting work with Dubai Fashion Week and the International Woolmark Prize and his 2013 strategy paper for an Australian fashion industry body, to which he claims Vogue Australia editor Edwina McCann was privy, but went on to establish without him as the Australian Fashion Chamber – a claim that is flatly denied by McCann. Lock also talks about his less well-known parallel career as a professional ski instructor in Australia and Japan.

Lock will be on hand at MBFWA’s upcoming spring showcase to oversee the upload of designer collections into digital resort 2016 showrooms after each show, potentially placing them before’s network of 2,650 retailers in 93 markets. Roughly 20 percent of designers showing solo on the schedule have signed up with the site.

Lock told WWD, “This 20th year is a real milestone in my career, because for the first time I am able to take Australian designers who are showing at Fashion Week and show them to every important retailer around the world.”

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