Abstract Summary

Nurturing the future  - How events and industry collide

In 1996 a group of visionaries gathered together to discuss the status of the Australian fashion industry struggling within a recessed economy, which was consequently creating a mood of anxiety, frustration and culpability. An idea sprang forth to develop a festival that celebrated the greatness inherent in the local fashion industry, in an attempt to shift focus from the negative impacts to the positive case studies.
The Melbourne Fashion Festival was born, a consumer orientated event that was to invigorate demand for fashion and assist the local industry in strengthening its bottom line. Fast-track fifteen years and the Melbourne Fashion Festival is now purported to be the largest public fashion event globally and in 2010 attracted over 420,ooo participants, included over 300 participating designers and brands, generated $48 million in national and international media coverage and contributed over $70 million to the Australian economy.

This presentation will address the impact of major fashion events on the local industry and how they can be used as incubators for all involved from graduates, emerging designers and established brands.

Business Profile
Karen Webster, Associate Professor
Program Director Fashion: RMIT University

Karen has been actively engaged as an advocate and leader in the Australian Fashion Industry for the past 30 years. From 2005 to 2010 through an industry secondment from her University position at RMIT, Karen was appointed Festival Director of the L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival. For fourteen years prior Karen headed up the fashion programs at RMIT University where she nurtured the fashion industry’s future talent.

During her tenure at RMIT University, Karen was the Australian representative for Paris based trend forecasting group; Studio Edelkoort.

Karen was a founding Board member of the Melbourne Fashion Festival, a position she held for nine years. She currently sits on the Boards of Melbourne Spring Fashion Week and Balletlab. She has also served as a Board member on the Australian Fashion Foundation, the Government committee for India Australia Education in the TCF industries and The Industry Development Board – Wool for the South Australian Government. More recently she has been on the Advisory Boards for State of Design Festival, the Design Research Institute and the Media Code of Conduct Working Group on Body Image for the Victorian State Government.

Karen worked as a fashion designer for over ten years in London, Melbourne and Sydney prior to working in academia. She still currently works as a strategic and design consultant within the fashion industry.

Karen Webster returned to the role of Program Director of Fashion at RMIT University in June 2010.

4th International Fashion Incubators Conference : 21-25 October 2013
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