By Gabby Ruiz

It’s no secret the fashion business in Australia is growing at a fast pace. Big cities, such as Sydney and Melbourne, are leading the industry with shops, designers and fashion weeks. However, they aren’t alone. Small cities want their share of the market and they also have a lot to offer to this creative industry.

The Gold Coast is one of these rising fashion cities. This sunny coast represents summer and fun. This style can be seen in its sense of fashion and in the local shops and boutiques present in the different suburbs.IMG_1656 This sunny coast represents summer and fun. This style can be seen in its sense of fashion and in the local shops and boutiques present in the different suburbs. From Main Beach to Burleigh Heads and passing through Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach, you can find some of the finest and most unique shopping options in Australia. Each suburb has its particular style and taste, but all of them are trying, one way or another, to sell the local talent of Australian labels.

The local government even has support program for the creative arts such as film, fashion and music. The Business Gold Coast’s creative program provides support that’s estimated at more than $190 million annually. With more than thirty shopping centres it is not a surprise that the Gold Coast is a prime shopping destination. The retail industry on the Gold Coast takes strength from the region being a tourism target.

Recently, the Manufacturing Excellence Taskforce of Australia, better known as META, announced the creation of the Australian Made Clothing Hub in collaboration with the Council of Textile & Fashion Industries of Australia (TFIA) with the aim of increasing the amount of locally made clothing sold within the country. The managing director, Zoran Angelkovski, said to Manufacturers Monthly that clothing sales in Australian totalled $13 billion annually, and the hub would aim to increase the local manufacturers’ contribution by another three per cent, or $390 million.

The fashion locations

IMG_1665One of the prime shopping destinations of the Gold Coast is Marina Mirage in Main Beach. The beautiful waterfront shopping centre is located in one of the most iconic suburbs of the Gold Coast. It lies directly opposite the five star Sheraton Mirage Resort and Spa and just by crossing a little bridge you can be in the spectacular and exclusive Palazzo Versace Hotel. One of the most iconic boutiques in Marina Mirage is Adrenalin. Established for more than sixteen years, Adrenalin is a buzzing designer boutique stocking an amazing collection of women’s brands from the most wanted Australian labels.Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 8.17.07 amDean McCauley, Managing Director, considers that the fashion scene in Gold Coast is evolving. “We are finding more and more people are interested in fashion as well as people moving to Queensland who follows fashion especially Australian designers that’s what we specialise in.” In this scenic shop, we can find the designs of talented Australian Designers such as Camila and Marc, Sass & Bide, Cameo and Ellery, among others. For McCauley, the prime input of the Gold Coast to the fashion business in Australia is the new emerging designers. “As long as the talent keeps coming through the Gold Coast, the spotlight on our talent will shine and get the attention from the other states.”

Walking through James St. in Burleigh Heads, is typical of the new “street shopping” scene on the coast. The shops, the delicious coffee and the feeling of being locally made create a relaxed vibe.  Stores offer the best Australian designs. Emte is one of them. Two entrepreneurial girls who wanted to showcase the Australian talent and inspire with creativity funded this boutique. Nowadays, just Emma Owens, one of the original founders, runs the boutique and Emte is a reflection of her personality and taste. “We have the amazing jewellery of local Gold Coaster Samantha Wills, who started at a market and now is internationally renowned. We also have Violet Gray that is designed by a local woman and has this down to earth vibe. The amazing watches of the Australian brand Status Anxiety are also in.” For Emma, it is important to support local business and brands. She feels the Gold Coaster shoppers are really interested and appreciative of local talent.

IMG_1658Another example of the new type of boutique you can find in James St. is Bikini and Me. Tanya Alexiou, the owner, is not a stranger to the clothing business. She created the boutique four years ago and the aim was to show the Australian design and create a sublime shopping experience. She believes the Internet has played a valuable role in the spreading the talent of local designers. “Up to five years ago we were a little behind compared with other cities, but now, with the Internet, I think we have a more global access and visibility. Consequently, the local talent can now show their creations and become known. We have now much more to offer than just swimwear fashion.” However, for Tanya, the most difficult part of the fashion businesses on Gold Coast is the existence of numerous shopping centres and she believes the city deserves more street shopping. “That is why James St. is so appealing and attractive.”IMG_1663

Big names in a small city

The big chains of fashion retailers have also targeted the Gold Coast. Zara was one of the first blockbuster international retailers to push into the Australian market a few years ago. This year, the Spanish retailer decided to open the first Queensland store and, instead of choosing Brisbane, they chose Robina Town Centre on the Gold Coast as their first location in the sunshine state.

So, how has this big and international chain of fast-fashion affected the local fashion business? For McCauley, the presence of these big stores, such as Zara, has cemented the fashion scene to grow on the Gold Coast. This way more and more customers can see the emerging trends coming through from overseas. “The only thing I hope is that people continue to support small business and Australian designers and high-quality products, otherwise our fashion industry will disappear which would be a disaster.” His main concern is that these overseas companies are not investing into the future of Australian businesses. For Owens, the presence of these big chains doesn’t mean a threat to her local boutique. She believes its´ just another good option for the customers but they will still shop for local designs.

The Robina Town Centre is one of the biggest shopping centres in Gold Coast and features the Gold Coast’s only David Jones department store as well as Myer, Australia’s largest Big W, Target, Kmart and over 350 specialty stores. Among these stores are most of the big names in Australia fashion industry such as Country Road, Cue, Kookai, Oroton, Portmans, Saba, Veronika Maine and many others. The latest trends and styles are displayed throughout the centre and one of the main focuses of the Shopping Centre is to become known as a fashion destination.

Another iconic shopping centre on the Gold Coast is Pacific Fair. It was one of the first shopping centres in Queensland and is now refreshing it its look in order to become a world-class shopping destination. The inversion is more than $670 million, which commenced in January 2014. With this renovation, Pacific Fair will be the largest shopping centre in Queensland and the fourth largest in Australia. Also, they announced a new David Jones on the Gold Coast.

Of course, the Gold Coast is not exempt of the luxury of the fashion world. For example, walking through Elkhorn Avenue, in Surfers Paradise, you can find a line-up of very prestigious boutiques. Louis Vuitton opened in this boutique in 2008 because for the brand, this was the best location in the city to consolidate the brand presence. As Oceania CEO, Philip Corne, commented to Gold Coast Business News, “Elkorn Avenue is starting to be the Rodeo Drive of Surfers Paradise.” Hermes, Gucci and Cartier are also showing their luxury creations in beautiful vitrines. In Main Beach, the Palazzo Versace Hotel contained the boutique Versace that showcase the last creations of the Italian brand.IMG_1664

Producing culture

But it is not all about business. There is also a rise in creative talent on the Gold Coast that goes hand by hand with the fashion business growth. Initiatives such as Rabbit & Cocoon and Sold Coast Project are exposing the talent and creativity of Goldcoasters. A fashion designer, a festival director and an art administrator  founded Rabbit & Cocoon with the aim of showcasing local talent. Nowadays, they have fourteen vibrant and distinctive warehouses where creative people build art practices, launch enterprises and stage public events. For the Sold Coast Project the aim is to amplify the cultural identity and work towards a vibrant, creative future for the Gold Coast.

For Shanene Ditton, member of the Centre for Cultural Research of the School of Humanities in Griffith University, the fashion business has emerged from the Gold Coast’s laid-back, sunny beach culture. “In contrast to metropolitan areas, many designers and artists on the Gold Coast are noticeably more relaxed with their style and artistic practice, reflecting the pace of their lifestyle and their natural surroundings.” Ditton believes the Gold Coast is now a thriving cultural hub, drawing artists and entrepreneurs alike. The Gold Coast presents a clean, open slate for artists and entrepreneurs to mould and transform as they wish. “The art scene on the Gold Coast is also particularly resilient, having emerged in resistance to the dominant representation of ‘sun, sand, surf and sex’.”

So what is the input of the Gold Coast to the Australian culture and fashion scene? Ditton agrees in that the beach spirit of the city is a fundamental part of the Australian culture and the creative talents of the Gold Coast can represent this national feeling of wishing sunny days and sandy airs. “In this way, Gold Coast fashion brings much to Australian culture—you just have to look at Paula Stafford’s bikini to see how much impact Gold Coast fashion can have on the Australian industry, and indeed the nation’s psyche.”

The Gold Coast has much more to offer than just bright sun and beaches to surf. The Gold Coast can be a fashion destination with its unique personality of relaxed vibe and the strength of street shopping. These uniqueness characteristics can attract fashion shoppers from all over the world and also within Australia. The talent shown and the presence of big and international fashion retailers can also mean that the city can stand strong next to the big cities such as Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Who knows, with this fast growing pace someday the Gold Coast can be name as a fashion capital.

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