October 4, 2012
Fabrication costs in Australia are causing some local fashion designers to take the manufacturing of their products overseas.
Perth fashion designers Erica Allia and Natasha Hinett, whose label Raspberry + Pop was showcased at the Perth Fashion Festival, said they did all the printing and dying of fabrics in Indonesia.
“We are very much about giving quality and affordable clothing and we felt this was the best way for us,” Ms Allia said.
She said Rasperry + Pop would like to produce its products in Australia but it was not possible if the company wanted to keep the retail price of its products under $400.
“There is not enough manufacturing facilities and cost of production is high,” Ms Allia said.
“We would like to do more of our producing here at home in Australia, however I think it is just part of the world of business today that it revolves around Asia – though silks and creating exclusively-designed prints is sometimes hard to keep it at an affordable price even doing it offshore.”
Central Institute of Technology prints and textile lecturer Kirstie Barnett said the institute encouraged local production but that this was not always easy.
“Some designers may be forced to [manufacture offshore] in a sense that their price point is too high,” Ms Barnett said.
“It’s not just about the production of garments; it’s the cost of fabrication.
“For instance if they’re just being able to only purchase a certain amount, they might be hit by a higher price for their fabric because they can’t buy bulk.”
Ms Barnett said labels were caught in a Catch-22 when it came to manufacturing clothes offshore.
“It’s obviously cheaper but you have to make sure the quality control is consistent,” she said.
“It comes with production issues, quality control [and] dispatch times can be varied.
“They all have to be considered when you’re producing offshore.”
Stylist for Perth business All of the Above Creative, Emma Bergmeier, said some people were put off buying clothes from Western Australian labels that were manufactured in Australia because they could be too expensive.
“It does cost a lot more money to make stuff in Australia,” Ms Bergmeier said.
“A lot more designers need to think about cheaper alternatives to what they’re doing, whether that is outsourcing some of that stuff from overseas in terms of production, rather than have it done here.”
Emerging designer Elisha Quintal from The Butcher and The Crow said Australian-made garments were more expensive.
However, she said that what consumers were paying for was the integrity of the product, whilst also supporting the local industry.
“We need to start valuing fashion that is made locally, produced with integrity and supports the sustainability of industries,” Ms Quintal said.
“The more that local designers continue to choose local manufacturing, the more we support the industry and the more we create healthy competitive pricing and accessibility.”
Ms Quintal said the change would ultimately come down to consumers.
“Purchasing a garment that is manufactured in WA rather than Asia is not just a decision now on how well it is made or how it looks,” she said.
“It’s [also] about supporting local industry and sustaining industry growth.”
This story was written and produced by the team at Western Independent which is due to hit stands next week.