The future of Australian fashion remains less than average, but in terms of size, this year’s National Designer Awards nominees are determined to improve the outlook.
Alemais founder Lesley Germanus was awarded the top prize, valued at $120,000 (including $20,000), with previous winners including Romance Was Born, Dion Lee and PE Nation from the Melbourne Fashion Festival and David Jones. Visually arresting designs from Alemais tick boxes for creativity, commercial appeal and durability but stop at sizing at size 14.
“We really engage with our customers and the community,” said Germanus, who received the People’s Choice Award at a ceremony at David Jones’ Melbourne store. “But I can’t tell you how many customers write to us about larger sizes.”
“We want to celebrate size inclusivity because these women feel marginalized and it breaks my heart. As a small business, there are many obstacles, but our plans for the future are at the forefront.
Having worked behind the scenes at the Zimmermann, Marks and Nicolas labels, Germanus started Alemais two years ago, and expanded into jewelry and swimwear, but production challenges kept him from moving to larger sizes.
“Suppliers are reluctant to produce large quantities, so we have to work closely with them to overcome this,” says Jermanus. “We want to celebrate size inclusion because it’s the most exciting thing in fashion right now.”
Melbourne designer Eleanor McInnes launched her label Joslyn in 2018 and received a $10,000 sustainability award. Joslin’s Love linens currently stand at a size 18, but McInnes says it took time to get to that point.
“As the brand has grown, we’ve been able to produce more sizes,” says McInnes. “I would love to go to a size 24, but my suppliers don’t consistently produce size 12s. The goal is to reach a volume of 20 by the end of this year. I need a few more stockists to support those volumes and our entire market will change.