Australian fashion brands make a comeback

Australian fashion brands make a comeback

Australian labels flooded the retail scene in the 1990s and early 2000s, but since then, it has been a drought.

One of Australia's most recognisable brands, Country Road, bowed out of Singapore in 2007, after 13 years.

Another popular brand, Sportsgirl, closed its seven stores here in 2000 after six years.

Twenty years ago, Tangs had 22 labels - but none today. Word is, sales did not live up to expectations.

Multi-label store Trixilini, which opened in 2003 as a purveyor of Australian labels, does not carry any Aussie labels currently. In its early years, it was one of the biggest buyers of Australian brands, stocking cult womenswear labels such as Lover and Vixen.

Other Aussie brands previously available here include Bettina Liano, Simona, Nicola Finetti, Alannah Hill and Lisa Ho. Some of these labels have merely exited Singapore while others have wound up altogether.

But retailers say Aussie brands are trickling back and they are counting on Singaporeans who have lived Down Under as well as Australians here to keep them afloat.

You will find Aussie designer labels such as Sass and Bide, Dion Lee, Josh Goot, Alice McCall, Romance Was Born and Karla Spetic at multi-label stores Inhabit at Mandarin Gallery and Lula Rock at Palais Renaissance.

Robinsons Orchard stocks casualwear brand Mink Pink and will soon be bringing in innerwear brand Bonds and denim brand NEUW.

Multi-label boutique Eclecticism will carry high-street brand The Fifth Label in October.

What's more, in the past year, at least three multi-label shops focusing on Australian brands have opened: Et-i-kit, The WYLD Shop and Wattletree.asia.

Both Et-i-kit and The WYLD Shop stock Australian high-street brands, while online boutique Wattletree.asia sells only Australian resortwear brands, such as Zimmerman and Camilla.

Ms June Huang, who owns Et-i-kit at Kandahar Street, says: "When I came back to Singapore in 2010 after studying in Australia, I couldn't find many of the Australian brands that I was used to buying and I realised there were many Singaporeans like me.

"So when the opportunity to start a multi-label store came along, what else would I have wanted more to stock?"

The four Australian labels in her store, Finders Keepers, Keepsake, Cameo and Shona Joy, account for about 60 per cent of her stock.

She says business has been good and next month she will add another two labels - Camilla and Marc and May - to the Aussie line-up.

The WYLD Shop, which sells only Australian labels and stocks womenswear brands Mink Pink, Evil Twin, Staple the Label and Indikah, has also found early success.

It began as an online business last year, but has done well enough to become a brick-and-mortar store at Clifford Centre.

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