I’m off to exciting Sydney Town tonight for the Spring/Summer 2010-11 Rosemount Australian Fashion Week (RAFW), happening May 2nd – 6th.
RAFW is Australia’s premier fashion industry event that provides a platform for designers to showcase their collections to the world’s most influential media and buyers. RAFW claims the mantle of the Asia Pacific’s stop on the international fashion week circuit joining Paris, Milan, New York and London.
This will be my first time attending RAFW. Having done so many fashion market weeks, runway and trade shows in the States, I’m looking forward to seeing how it is done in my home country – especially when considering Australian vitality and enthusiasm.
The RAFW website describes fashion week as:
a five-day official schedule that includes on-site collection shows held within state-of-the-art collection showrooms, off-site collection shows, The Gallery and The Presentation Suites at The Westin Sydney.“
On-site” is the Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) – at Sydney’s fabulous Circular Quay. If you have never been to Circular Quay, it is one of the most spectacular big city vistas anywhere in the world. With the Sydney Harbor Bridge on your left, the Sydney Opera House on your right, and the unparalleled Sydney Harbor lapping at the quay, you are in the heart of the historic Sydney Cove which many people the world over think is, pound-for-pound, the best city in the world.
The OPT will act as the activity and business hub. I’ll be attending the full daily schedule of runway shows and showcases, both on-site and off-site. I’ll be making contact with designers, manufacturers, sales agents and PR firms. My focus will be on companies that aspire to launch in the very challenging, exciting and lucrative US apparel market.
I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge RAFW for taking action on an important issue facing the fashion industry. I was encouraged to see that on the RAFW website’s Event Information Page it is mostly filled with their HEALTHY WEIGHT AND POSITIVE BODY IMAGE GUIDELINES. I was so impressed by the intention of the guideline that I felt compelled to post it, in full, here:
“RAFW encourages the fashion industry to promote healthy body images through the presentation of and publicity associated with the event. It recognises that the promotion of images of exceedingly thin models on the catwalk may lead to some young Australian women seeing such persons as role models and becoming obsessive about wanting to emulate these images. It is understood that there have been reported links with a variety of eating disorders associated with this scenario around the world.
Designers participating in RAFW are responsible for casting models for their individual shows. RAFW is responsible for casting models for all group shows and any special events also in consultation with designers.
RAFW does not currently see the need to impose strict rules on designers regarding the casting of models at the event in relation to imposing body mass indexes (BMI), or any other forms of body measurement. There has been very little cause for concern regarding this issue in the history of RAFW. Additionally, the vast majority of models appearing at RAFW are Australian who naturally tend towards having higher BMIs given a range of environmental factors. We are also fortunate, given the professional nature of modelling agencies in Australia, who have a strict code of self regulation in respect to the care and governance of the models they represent.
Given the current media speculation on this image issue and by recognising that the promotion of unnaturally or extraordinarily thin models may be harmful to young Australian women, RAFW feels that it is necessary to reinforce to designers, model agencies and industry some sensible self regulating guidelines to avoid any unnecessary situations occurring. These are;
Modelling agencies will be briefed not to send to RAFW designer show castings, for either individual, group or special events, any models who in their professional opinion would be considered to be unnaturally or extraordinarily thin or suspected of having an eating disorder. This statement purely serves to reinforce the current professional practice of Australian modelling agencies.
Designers should be mindful when casting for RAFW shows that there are links between the promotion of unnatural or extraordinarily thin models and eating disorders in young women and to ensure that while healthy, naturally slim models are the industry standard, that extraordinarily thin models are not cast.
To avoid sensationalising body image on the catwalks of RAFW, RAFW encourages all media editors to act responsibly by not publishing unflattering or unfortunate images of models that might be captured despite the best efforts of model agencies, designers and RAFW to present models with positive body images. It is not uncommon for individual pictures to incorrectly portray a model’s body type and publication of these images may contribute negatively to the situation RAFW and the industry are trying to improve.
RAFW only has jurisdiction over group show and special event casting and will not cast unnaturally or extraordinarily thin models for these shows.
RAFW has no jurisdiction over models appearing in individual designer shows and encourages all designers and their agents to adhere to the self regulating guidelines outlined above.”
The US fashion industry and media could take a few pages from RAFW. I feel good about being part of an event that is trying to take a stand on an important issue that has caused so many women to have body image problems, doubt their self-worth, all based on unrealistic and unhealthy comparisons. Well-done RAFW!