JULIE BISHOP: Australia’s fashion industry is world-class. Our designers and products are at the leading edge of global fashion trends, from Sydney to New York, Paris to Sao Paulo, Shanghai to Jakarta.

As Foreign Minister, I have embraced the policy of Fashion Diplomacy to showcase and promote Australian fashion throughout our diplomatic network around the world.

Our fashion industry is already making such a significant contribution. Over 220,000 jobs directly in Australia.

It is worth over $12 billion and 40 per cent of that sum comes from export earnings.

The potential for this industry to grow is immense when you think that it encompasses creators and designers and manufacturers and models and stylists and photographers and magazines and media and technology.

The global fashion market is valued at about $3 trillion and the good news is that the consumer-class is growing exponentially.

Currently the middle-class around the world is about 2 billion people. By 2030, it will be 5 billion. Those consumers, two-thirds of them will be in our part of the world and demand for high quality goods and products, particularly in fashion and associated industries will be increasing.

Australia is exquisitely positioned to take advantage of these opportunities. We are already building a strong reputation for creativity and flair and our skills are very much recognised and in demand.

Characteristically we lead an active and outdoor lifestyle. We’ve got a fabulous climate and the best beaches in the world so it is natural that we would excel in swimwear and resort wear.

Yet Australia is a diverse multicultural nation. In fact, the most successful multicultural nation on earth. Over half of our population was born overseas or has at least one parent born overseas, as our politicians are still discovering it seems.

And this rich and diverse cultural inheritance is reflected in our fashion industry and the wide variety and the fusion of styles is appropriate, given who we are, and I think it is natural and important that we celebrate our diversity through fashion.

The Australian fashion industry enhances other major sectors of our economy – agriculture and mining for example as Australian wool and cotton and leather and skins and hides and Australian pearls and gold and diamonds and opals and other gems enhance our fashion accessories and our clothes.

Now, the fashion industry enhances our reputation as a sophisticated, innovative, nation with enterprising people. And I want to thank Edwina McCann and Kellie Hush and the work of the Australian Fashion Council for not only raising the profile of Australian fashion but by building partnerships to ensure that it continues to grow both at home and internationally.

And the Australian Government is doing its part. Over the last 12 months we have hosted through our embassies and posts overseas over 60 fashion events across every continent showcasing our talent to the world.

It is also important that we support emerging artists and our young people and the Australian Government has a program, a student program called the New Colombo Plan. We provide support for Australian undergraduates at all of our universities in whatever discipline they are undertaking, to spend time living and studying and undertaking an internship in one of 40 countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

The students in fashion and design are grabbing these opportunities and I want to give you just a couple of examples.

There is a girl called Isla Munro – she’s a student a Curtin University in Western Australia. She got a New Colombo Plan scholarship to study fashion in Hong Kong and she interned in Jakarta with Tex Saverio. Now apparently he’s the Alexander McQueen of Indonesia - according to his website - and he has dressed Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian and even made Jennifer Lawrence’s wedding dress. So Isla worked with him and when she came back to Australia she said that that 12 months in Asia really inspired her graduate fashion collection and she is certainly someone to watch.

And there is another student – Paige Philogene – and she’s from Queensland University of Technology and she studied at the National Institute of Fashion and Technology in New Delhi and she interned at the premier Indian fashion event, the Amazon India Fashion Week.

Now these are just some of the examples of the wonderful opportunities that young Australians in the fashion industry are experiencing overseas and we have to ensure that there is more of this opportunity for them to engage globally.

This is a story worth shouting from the rooftops! Our Australian designers are competing with the best in the world and we must do all we can to ensure that this industry grows and thrives and survives.

I take this opportunity to thank MAAS, the Museum of Applied Arts and Science for not only raising the contributions needed for the exhibition and for the Australian Fashion Fund but for creating this wonderful opportunity tonight to celebrate the Australian fashion industry – an industry that reflects who we are, an industry that is dynamic, that shows our originality and an industry that will endure for the future, reflecting Australia and the best that we have to offer.

- Ends -

Media enquiries

  • Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555