The Way We Wore: Dec 6

Final episode spans Carla Zampatti, RM Williams, Drizabone, Akubra, Ripcurl, Billabong Quiksilver, Zimmermann sisters and more.

Fashion has always been big business. So why is it so often dismissed as frivolous?

In this final episode of The Way We Wore, Celeste Barber tracks the ascent of Australia’s fashion sector, tracing its roots from early bespoke seamstresses to the multi-billion-dollar international enterprise it is today.

Australia’s first major shopping outlet was born in 1838 when a man named David Jones opens a general store that becomes a metropolitan luxury department store.

But it isn’t until we start to embrace our own environment and aesthetic that an Australian brand grows into something uniquely its own. Brands start to design clothes that can deal with Australian conditions which are much harsher than anywhere in Europe. RM Williams, Drizabone and Akubra are the three heritage brands that Australian can call their own.

In the 1960s, Italian migrant, Carla Zampatti, brings power dressing to a generation of women. Carla brings her Italian sense of style to Australian customers along with her progressive views on women’s rights which are built into the fabric of every one of her garment.

In the 1970s, the three big surf brands, Ripcurl, Billabong and Quiksilver, become international phenomena in a few short years.

By the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Zimmermann sisters are gearing up to take the global fashion world by storm. They become Australia’s first billion-dollar fashion label. With the introduction of the internet, Zimmermann capitalises on a global opportunity to reach huge markets.

Despite the enormous challenges, Australian designers continue to take on the fashion industry and are thriving by drawing from the natural environment, constantly innovating, and finding their niches.

8pm Tuesday on ABC.

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