Models walk the runway at the BONDI BORN show during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2021. Image by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images.
Afterpay Australian Fashion Week (AAFW) 2021 kicked off in Sydney last Monday with a week of celebration of Australian fashion and a bit of Kiwi fashion represented too. Much like many big events, AAFW was cancelled due to the global pandemic last year and while some fashion weeks have gone ahead in a more digital form since, this event was one of the few able to feature a full schedule of in-person runway shows.
With a new naming rights sponsor on board, a commitment to featuring First Nations designers and talent, and an exciting line-up of emerging and established brands, this AAFW promised big things and mostly delivered. It’s kind of hard to believe it’s taken this long for the event (launched in 1996) to properly showcase indigenous designers and the week even opened with a Welcome to Country ceremony on the Monday morning. Described as a decade in the making, the Indigenous Fashion Projects presentation was an incredible showcase of seven indigenous designers, featured indigenous models and was produced by an indigenous team, marking a step in the right direction for the event.
Highlights from the runway included the opening show by emerging designer and Central Saint Martins graduate Jordon Dalah whose spectacular presentation featured voluminous garments that toyed with the past and present. Crowd favourites Romance was Born put on a theatrical display complete with a whimsical merry-go-round, while BONDI BORN showcased their vibrant Resort range next to Sydney’s iconic harbour landmarks. The only New Zealand designer on the schedule, Maggie Marilyn, made the brand’s AAFW debut with a beautiful sun-dappled film showcasing the latest Maggie Marilyn Forever collection.
Aside from lots of action on the runway the week included a number of panel discussions on relevant fashion industry topics including the future of fashion, technology, representation and sustainability. There were also a series of designer interviews with the likes of Zimmermann and Aje, and the Lady-Brains podcast which was live-recorded from the event.
Overall, it was a fantastic week of down under fashion though lacking in plus size people on and off the runway (Maggie Marilyn’s film was one of few exceptions). There was a small inclusion of models with disabilities too but not enough to seem like a proper step forward. New Zealand Fashion Week is well ahead in terms of representation and inclusion but we’re hopeful the next Afterpay Australian Fashion Week makes strides forward again there too.
Thanks to Getty Images we’ve got a look from every show for you to enjoy in the gallery below.
Images by Stefan Gosatti, James Gourley and Brendon Thorne/Getty Images.