Keys to unlocking the volatile Australian market

This month’s fashion podcast series by Euromonitor International explores the key trends within the incredibly dynamic apparel and footwear industry in Australia. The Australian apparel and footwear industry has been incredibly volatile and lively over the last decade with many companies considered to be staples of the world fashion industry closing their operations within Australia and operating solely online. This can be put down to the high operating costs, which includes soaring rents and high wages. Several high-profile companies have recently discontinued their operations, namely international players such as Gap, Espree and Forever 21 and local players Bardot and Stylerunner went into voluntary administration in 2019.

However, two key trends have seemed to be common among businesses that are thriving in this difficult Australian market: in-store experiences and sustainable fashion.

While the world is innovating and improving their online experience, Australians are experimenting different in-store experiences in order to attract more customers offline. Even though Australia is a bit behind in terms of fashion trends due to the difference in weather, it is no longer behind in terms of new retail concepts. According to Euromonitor’s Lifestyle survey, 50 percent of Australian respondents said they want to see or try things in-store before buying and 48 percent of them said they prefer buying in-store because of immediate ownership of the product. This explains why brands are working to improve their in-store experiences using different digital tools. An example of this is the Australian footwear retailer, Athletes Foot, which has introduced a MyFit 3D fitting tool in its store that allows customers to find the perfect fit using their walking manner and pressure points.

The second trend – sustainable fashion has been gaining a lot of prominence with more Australians becoming concerned about climate change. This has been fuelled by the recent bush fires which ravaged the country. Consumers are wanting to make a positive impact on the environment and are forcing companies to take ethical considerations into account. Companies are actively trying to source organically grown cotton and are finding alternatives for nylon and polyester by experimenting with different types of recyclable or recycled materials. This has especially been apparent in sportswear where brands such as Nimble Activewear and Running Bare are using PET bottles, recycled polyester, seaweed and bamboo to make active wear.

Customers are also slowly putting an end to ownership by renting clothes or buying second-hand items. There is still a wide portion of Australians who have never rented items, 41 percent of the consumers said they rent items rather than buying at some frequency (ranging from rarely renting to renting items weekly). The Iconic – one of the biggest apparel and footwear online retailers in Australia, added a Considered Edit filter on its website in 2019, where customers can choose items from different causes that they want to get associated with. This includes options of clothing and footwear that is animal friendly, eco-friendly, fairly produced or made up of sustainable materials.

For companies looking to compete and thrive in the Australian market, innovative in-store experiences and a consideration to sustainable fashion is a must.

Written and created for FashionUnited by Euromonitor. Euromonitor International is the world's leading independent provider of strategic market research.

Image: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels


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