It’s been something of a cold, dark summer for Australian fashion retail.
Several big industry players have fallen on their sword and called in the administrators in the face of a consistently tough retail environment. Major names Marcs and David Lawrence collapsed under millions of dollars of debt at the start of the month.
Just before Christmas, venerable local kids wear brand Pumpkin Patch raised the white flag. Now, Herringbone—which had a near-death experience in the wake of the global financial crisis before being snapped up by German company Van Laack—this week emerged as the latest retail fashion victim, taking its premium suiting brand Rhodes & Beckett down with it. They’re the latest local brands to fall in the retail space, but analysts fear they won’t be the last.
Without doubt, retail is a tough game, one made all the tougher in the last decade or so with the rise of online shopping, giving shoppers less incentive to visit stores. And as if e-tail hadn’t made life difficult enough by tempting Australians to exotic international brands they previously couldn’t access, many of those global brands have recently brought the fight for shoppers into our high streets.
It’s all very well to lament the loss of Aussie names like Dick Smith and Ford Falcon, but if you’re parking your VW Golf out the front of IKEA it’s kind of easy to see why—brands need buyers (and the right products to draw them in). While mighty brands may fall, there is light… there are many incredible local labels doing amazing things, finding a niche to co-exist with our favourite international brands. They deserve our support—who knows, perhaps one day they’ll become the next much-loved Australian icon?
Hug your favourite Aussie retailer today. And support the local brands you love by actually buying their stuff. Otherwise they may not be there tomorrow.
Photo: David Lawrence