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What a fashion buyer is hoping to see at Australian Fashion Week

“I’m intrigued by brands that shake up the market.”

Australian Fashion Week is a busy, brilliant, beautiful and chaotic time for everyone involved. For a long time in preparation, designers and their teams work into the wee hours of the morning, with dwindling sleep and almost zero downtime. PR teams can barely keep on top of their inboxes; journalists’ minds are melting between research, preparation and planning; and influencers are urgently finalising each outfit, show and corresponding post with many more moving parts than you’d probably expect.

So what does Australian Fashion Week (AFW) look like for a fashion buyer? It’s not quite as simple as attending shows.

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Before finalising what they’d like to curate for audiences to shop, a buyer will consider consumer data, sales data, trend analysis and forecasting, strategic direction, brand alignment and overall brand vision. Runways move fast and off-runway showings (where buyers browse collections offsite) often require a quick in-and-out approach to fit within a packed schedule. All in all, there’s not a lot of time to bring all the pieces together.

Understandably then, fashion buyers tend to arrive at AFW with a clear idea of what they’re looking for. Lisa Bean is no different. As Senior Designer Buyer at The Iconic, she is responsible for curating the exact styles you can browse and shop on The Iconic’s Designer edit, which means much of the platform’s success turns on her eye and intuition. As an official media partner of this year’s Australian Fashion Week, we asked Lisa what she hopes to see from designers in 2024.

Hi Lisa! Tell us a little about you.

I am the Senior Designer Buyer at The Iconic, which means my team and I are responsible for curating ranges from your favourite Australian and international designer brands. I work on forward strategies and opportunities that will drive the department to success from brand acquisition, to negotiations and forward business plan alignment with our partners, to hand-selecting styles for our customers to shop.

What does a typical fashion week look like for you? 

It’s arguably one of the busiest weeks on the fashion calendar here in Australia. I’ll be in and out of fashion shows on the schedule at AFW, as well as working on commentary and content for our social team to support The Iconic’s AFW coverage. We also have a lot of exciting partnerships and collaborations in the works this year, which will keep me busy in between refuelling on coffee.

Outside of AFW, there is business as usual to get on with. Brands will also be showing their Resort ranges off the runway, so I’ll be in brand meetings, showings and sign-offs to lock in our Q4 strategy and vision.

Tell us about the shows and showings you’re attending this year, who are you excited to see?

There is a lot of buzz around the P.E Nation show. They are hot off their Melbourne Fashion Week appearance so I’m looking forward to seeing how they can continue to innovate and excite. Acler is also in a really exciting space at the moment, with some incredible range and brand developments, so it will be great to see how they deliver at this year’s show.

Michael Lo Sordo’s show is offsite and will, no doubt, be all over your feed. He always delivers, with show-stopping occasionwear and an impressive talent lineup.

What are you hoping to see from Australian designers this year? 

The Resort collections going down the runway are vital to a successful season on The Iconic. These ranges drop during peak summer, so it’s always so exciting to see how brands will push the boundaries for these collections.  I’m looking for evolution on current trends and how we can interpret this for our customers for the upcoming seasons.

With the rise of boho, I’m hoping to see soft silhouettes with sheer or opaque panelling. We’ve also seen bubble hems start to make a comeback from the ’90s in dresses and skirts. I’m hoping this will also spark creativity and progression in pants, skirts and shorts styling as we continue to see a shift away from dresses.

What makes a designer stand out to you? 

I look for brands that can hold their own. In an arguably saturated market, strong brand identity is imperative for success. We have such a broad but loyal customer on The Iconic, so I’m always on the hunt for brands that will sit apart and complement our assortment on-site.

Uniqueness is extremely underrated. The retail landscape is highly competitive and for most of our designer brands, we see success from styles that are new to the market. It’s important that trends are well-executed with a considered pricing architecture. Value and quality is paramount for our customers.

What should consumers be considering when buying fashion?

In a culture of microtrends with an economic landscape that can feel a little overwhelming, considering versatility and timelessness is really important. I am investing in quality pieces that still deliver a seasonal update, like a beautiful leather ballet flat or wide-leg wool trousers that will last me years to come. You can be inspired by TikTok’s seemingly endless microtrends, but don’t lose your own sense of personal style among the feed.

Who are some of your favourite Australian designers at the moment?

I’m intrigued by brands that shake up the market, whether that be through styling, marketing or overall brand DNA. Alemais entered the market in 2020 and has produced some absolute magic in the way of print direction and storytelling. At the other end of the spectrum, the elegant minimalism of Harris Tapper seems to be on the back of every fashion influencer in my feed. The brand’s easy elegance and high quality tailoring is the go-to for a capsule wardrobe. Of course, Camilla and Marc is always a favourite to watch. They are a leader in the Australian designer market and continue to produce directional and timeless pieces the fashion set can’t get enough of.

To buy tickets to Australian Fashion Week, head here.