SYDNEY, April 8 (Xinhua) -- The national shot of fashion adrenalin, Australian fashion Week - and some 50 million Australian dollars of sales is going on along runways in Sydney, from Monday to Thursday with over 70 local designers fight tooth and varnished nail for the briefest attention of otherwise inaccessible international fashion insiders.
Fashion is a notoriously brutal industry south of the equator, with the 2013 season notable not for its fresh designs, but rather for the grim spectacle of once-famous brands falling to the axe of global austerity.
With 30,000 fashion gurus expected to take part in the exclusively industry-only event, ruthless rivalry will ensure designers approach the week long festival as something of a sudden death competition.
Running across Sydney, the 4-day schedule will include a courted selection of Australia's established fashion designers as well as a showcase from the brightest emerging talent including, for the first time, talent from China and Indonesia
Local trend-setter Assia Benmedjdoub, editor of Ragtrader described the 2014 industry as brutal.
"Designers are no longer competing amongst themselves anymore. They're competing against the international high street... Zara and H&M are coming in and (local designers) haven't had to compete with that before."
Traditionally the domain of industry professionals, fashion weeks around the world are exclusive invitation-only events that present wholesale designer collections for the trade to plan the looks that will appear months later in magazines and in retail stores.
With the tyranny of distance starving local haut-couture consumers of the New York, Paris and Dalian runways, the 2014 AFW has opened the social media channels with live streamed shows and social media feeds, ensuring the fashionable consumer is deeply engaged in the designer brands from the moment the very first look.
Last year's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia was viewed via these channels in more than 95 countries, with an impressive average viewing time of 21 minutes.
The State Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade & Investment Andrew Stoner, speaking from China, told Xinhua that the fashion industry still had enormous potential and merited official support.
"It's exciting to see Sydney and Australia pioneering new initiatives that will assist in creating even more opportunities for local designers. The new Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weekend Edition will generate consumer interest by leveraging the buzz and excitement that is generated from showing at a fashion event of this global scale," he said.
For showcasing designers, the media and social frenzy that follows their runway show brings a major spike in global and local brand attention.
IMG Fashion has launched an e-commerce engine turning runways into "shop-able" experiences.
This year, designers have the opportunity to create a capsule collection for sale exclusively on this platform where consumers can purchase via the live stream or direct from the runway at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weekend Edition.
This means live stream viewers and Weekend Edition attendees will have the unique opportunity to own the latest Spring Summer 2014/15 trends first months before the collections land in store for retail sale.
Australian fashion has seen challenging times as an industry with the influx of international fast fashion brands, manufacturing constraints, coupled with seasonal and export challenges.
With online retail in Australia expected to grow to 27 billion dollars in 2016, IMG Fashion are excited to be leading the way with initiatives that support local industry, drive return on investment for runway shows, and help local brands maximize the global attention generated by involvement in the event series.
Elle Turner, director of Brand & Strategy, at IMG Fashion said the consumer activity generated by the event plays a key part in the evolution of the Australian fashion industry.
The event allows designers to engage an audience and leverage capsule collections to buy immediately, and Shop the Runway will assist Australian designers to generate actual consumer sales during a time traditionally restricted to B2B sales, Turner said.
The 2014 Fashion Week will be streamed online to more than 90 countries around the globe, with confirmed buyers including ASOS, Addison Crescent, House of Fraser, Harvey Nichols, and Selfridges.
Stoner told Xinhua that in 2012, the net economic impact of just a few days of Fashion Week was 33 million Australian dollars.