Federal Parliament - Australian-made products

October 26, 2020

Dr ALYToday I'm wearing a recycled silk top—which I got as a steal—by WA designer Flannel, and a silk skirt from their winter 2020 collection. My earrings are from a shop called Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves, which—

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Sitting suspended from 18:12 to 18:39

Dr ALY: I'm going to start again by saying that today I am wearing a recycled silk top by WA designer Flannel, which I got for a bargain price, and a silk skirt from their winter 2020 collection. My earrings are from a shop called Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves. It's in Hervey Bay and it's owned by my dear friends Damo and Amanda. Some might think that name is quite apt! My jacket is by KOOKAI and it was made in Australia. You might think it's a little bit frivolous to talk about fashion in the hallowed halls of parliament, but the point I am making here is not about the anaesthetics of fashion—which, of course, I am a very big fan of—but that the Australian fashion industry, whether it is in textiles, apparel, footwear or bags and accessories, is a growing industry and one that we should be speaking more about. I mean, apples and oranges are fun, but, let's face it, fashion is so much more fun!

The domestic market in Australia is at $28.5 billion a year, annual retail sales of fashion are at $21 billion a year, and employment in textiles, clothing, leather and footwear manufacturing is at around 37,000 people. In the UK, fashion is actually the largest creative industry. We have the potential in Australia to lead the world because we have sought-after designs and talented designers. We have iconic Australian brands that cater for different tastes, ages and budgets, including Zimmermann; Ellery; Manning Cartell; Maticevski; CAMILL; Billabong; Cotton On; Seafolly; sass and bide; Alex Perry; Academy; Nobody Denim; Romance Was Born; We are Kindred; Aje; Collette Dinnigan; Carla Zampatti; Realisation Par; Flannel, which is, of course, a WA brand; Dion Lee; Alice McCall; RM Williams, which is iconic; Tigerlily; and Steel Blue Boots, which has a factory in Cowan. And there are new and emerging designers like Thomas Puddick and jewellery designers like Mountain and Moon.

It is incredibly difficult for Australian designers to break into the market, both internationally and domestically. Since the 1980s, the textile industry in Australia has been decimated. My father was a textiles engineer. When we arrived over here from Egypt, he worked for Jennings, a famous women's underwear brand, for several years before he was made redundant and his line of work was no longer available in Australia. That's when he became a bus driver. Australians have sourced their fashion from overseas, where it is usually produced en masse and without any view to sustainability, but Australian designers are, by and large, ethical in their production and are transitioning into a circular textile economy. The Australian Fashion Council is an independent not-for-profit body. Their members are drawn from across the fashion and textile industries and include organisations and individuals as well. When they look at the industry—and I think they look at the industry in a great way—they view fashion as encompassing the entire spectrum of the value chain, from students to multinational companies, from shopping centres to fibre growers, from workwear companies to luxury goods, and from the product right through to the consumer. When viewed through that lens, fashion isn't just about aesthetics. It's not just about the earrings that I am wearing today. Let's not mention the shoes! They're flat shoes today—it's Monday! It's not just about those things; it is about an industry that spans across a range of sectors, and we should be supporting it more in Australia.

I'm disappointed that the Perth Fashion Festival was dissolved after going into administration and Telstra ending its support, but I note that the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, a global fashion event, will be celebrating its 25th anniversary next year. So, let's all get behind Australian fashion, because supporting Australian made means supporting our textiles, apparel, footwear and accessories industries. As they say on Project Runway, 'In fashion, one day you're in and the next day you're out!'