While resort is commonly thought of as an in-between season that's rolled out to press and retailers between the highly publicized fall and spring runway collections, it's actually quite important commercially. Not only do resort wares linger on sales floors longer, the ranges are often filled to the brim with less-trendy closet staples — the types of things that customers can layer into their wardrobes in any type of weather, and that have a timeless sort of staying power. Press, buyers and the like often preview these collections in designer showrooms, via intimate presentations or, if we're talking about big-name luxury houses like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Chanel, with a huge runway spectacle in an exotic locale (that the rest of the population can experience through FOMO-inducing Instagram posts).
However, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia — which took place over six days in Sydney last week — is aiming to bring resort to the forefront with its annual schedule of shows and presentations, inviting top international editors, retailers and influencers to discover the continent's home-grown talents. The ultimate goal is to turn Sydney into a global fashion destination, and as we've learned by making the 24-hour-long journey three years running, Australia is a hotbed of talent, with noteworthy brands emerging from nearly every price point and product category. From eco-friendly swimwear and intimates to super-feminine ready-to-wear and minimalist accessories, here are 12 labels that commanded our attention at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia's Resort 2019 season.
The debut collection from A. Emery, a line consisting of all-black sandals in timeless silhouettes, are designed in Melbourne and handcrafted in Mumbai. Prices top out at $160 AUD (about $121 USD), and with options like classic flat slides, T-bar gladiators and a delicate criss-cross style that wraps at the ankle, you're likely going to want to snatch up one of each.
Founded in 2015 by Australian designers Kathryn Forth and Julia Ritorto, Acler mixes super-feminine elements like ruffles, pleats and puffed sleeves with Japanese-inspired tailoring — all at a contemporary price point. The label is stocked at e-commerce giants like Shopbop, Moda Operandi and Revolve, with its own website currently undergoing a makeover.
Australian sisters Steph and Ness Carver are behind this accessibly priced brand that, according to its website, is equal parts "tender and disheveled" and consists of "feminine styles with androgynous edge." Each in-season collection boasts an impressive amount of options, ranging from silky mini-dresses to oversized blazers and airy blouses to trousers, all of which could work just as well in the office as they would on vacation.
Client Liaison Deluxe Line
Melbourne-based musical duo Client Liaison — founded by Harvey Miller and Monte Morgan — are already well-known for their over-the-top onstage personas and '80s-inspired electro pop, and for Resort 2019, they made their runway debut with a cheeky collection of beachwear that takes cues from retro brands like Esprit. Whether you're in the market for an oversized logo sweatshirt or a Hawaiian print linen jumpsuit, this is leisurewear done the Aussie way.
This Auckland, New Zealand-based label that's been around since 2005 took to the runway in Sydney this season. Deadly Ponies offers up handbags in ethically- and locally-sourced leathers — and in both trendy and timeless shapes for both men and women — at a price point that falls under $1,000 AUD.
Hawaiian shirt purveyor Double Rainbouu captivated us on the Sydney runways last year, but the duo's latest collection has steadily expanded to include knitwear, swim, hats and denim. In addition, Mikey Nolan and Toby Jones (formerly of Ksubi) collaborated with skate brand Globe and eyewear favorite Le Specs on sneakers and sunglasses, respectively, for resort.
The brainchild of designers Rosie Iffla and Christine Tang, Fella is a Sydney-based swimwear brand that has built a cult-like following on social media since it was founded in 2012. The minimalist collection prioritizes high-end materials and comes in a wide array of silhouettes that shoppers can mix and match as they please — and, in many cases, incorporate into their everyday, non-beach wardrobes.
Holly Ryan founded her eponymous line of jewelry in 2011, and every piece is handcrafted in either her Coolum Beach or Bronte studio, using only locally sourced and sustainably produced materials. In her resort lookbook, Ryan says, "I have always seen jewelry as being miniature sculpture for the body," and her creations range from minimal to artfully whimsical — although they're all meant for everyday wear.
Founded by Keisha Dessaix in 2016, Le Buns is an Australian label of eco-friendly intimates and swimwear in basic silhouettes that are as sexy as they are simple. Made from only natural, organic materials, the super-soft underwear staples and substantial bathing suits are meant to hug a woman's curves and flatter every figure.
Australian designer Lee Mathews launched her line in 2000, but her runway show was one of the most talked-about of the week. With a collection that included plenty of crisp white shirting, sweet gingham prints, pastel shades, lightweight outerwear and easy day dresses done up in natural materials, Mathews is a surefire hit for fans of minimalist brands like The Row, Phoebe Philo's Céline and Jacquemus.
Former bridal couture designer Lillian Khallouf and her sister Dianne Khallouf launched this eponymous line of ready-to-wear that prioritizes luxurious materials, sophisticated silhouettes and impeccable tailoring a few years back. Thanks to its use of bold, rich colors and distinctive, dramatic shapes like puff sleeves, corsets and plunging necklines, it's already become a go-to for Australian celebrities and tastemakers.
Designers Georgia Cherrie and Paris Mitchell established their made-in-New Zealand label in 2015, with an emphasis on recreating the perfect '90s-inspired slip dress. The contemporary brand also includes wear-to-death items like wide-leg trousers, turtleneck knits, belted jackets and sheer silk blouses that wouldn't look out of place on your favorite "It" girl's Instagram feed.
Homepage photo: Acler at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia. Photo: Stefan Gosatti/Getty Images
Disclosure: IMG provided our travel and accommodations to cover Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia in Sydney.