Melbourne Retail Festival 2019 Recap

We had a wonderful time at the Melbourne Retail Festival in February showcasing over 150 local and international fashion brands. Thank you so much to all of the buyers, wholesalers, designers, influencers and industry personalities who joined us over the two days!


We had a wonderful time at the Melbourne Retail Festival in February showcasing over 150 local and international fashion brands.

Thank you so much to all of the buyers, wholesalers, designers, influencers and industry personalities who joined us over the two days!

Exhibitor Highlights

Many exhibitors were fortunate to develop new business relationships with fashion buyers from leading Australian retailers including The Iconic, Myer, General Pants and Coco & Lola in addition to international buyers and a range of boutiques, gift and coastal stores.

“Coming to an event like this exposes you to a lot more potential buyers for these brands especially international. We had some fantastic US and UK buyers coming and talking to us about particular brands they want to showcase overseas. For a local Australian designer, that’s huge.” – By Karina Agency

“I have met some really great buyers. I have met a PR fashion agency, I have met buyers from Myer and smaller boutique buyers.” - Elocin the Label

It was also great to see new friendships form at the festival between exhibitors and industry professionals. In the world of fashion, it is so important to form relationships with likeminded people who you can collaborate with and share invaluable advice. We are all about community over competition!

Buyer Highlights

It was great to see buyers from boutiques both large and small attending the trade show to pick up new brands for their stores.

Buyers who attended the festival were very impressed with the high calibre of the exhibitors.

“Melbourne Retail Festival had lots of different brands from different departments. Lots of the brands here have quite a difference with the quality of their products and there were lots of brands that we saw that were quite sustainable with different fabrics so it was quite good to see the products in person and to see the quality.” – Tessa, The Iconic Buying Team

“I am excited about all of the colour and there seems to be a lot of internationals here which is really interesting. I saw a really interesting Columbian swimwear label so to be able to see something like that in Melbourne is pretty amazing.” - Hollie Sweet, Loft Agency

Buyers found the Melbourne Retail Festival beneficial for many different reasons.

“It is so good from every aspect whether you’re a buyer or a designer. So beneficial, the discussions are great insight on industry to get a better understanding. It is also good for us as a buyer as you get approached by new brands all the time but seeing and feeling the product and since it is all in one place and I know what I’m looking for – rather than being bombarded by emails you can find it here. Having it all in one spot is amazing.” - Sue Alali, Buyer at General Pants

“I think it is an amazing way to speak to other likeminded retailers and find out some more information and grow within the retail industry. I think it is beneficial for new labels to be at Melbourne Retail Festival because they get to showcase their product to buyers like myself who are interested in picking up new brands. It is also great to see and feel new brands who you have maybe been sent a look book of their product.” - Jessica Dunlop, Owner at Coco & Lola

We certainly saw a trend where Australian retailers want to support local designers and work closely with them to achieve great results.

“I’m here to support any independent trade shows that support local Australian designers.” - Peri Ridge, Head of Buying at Husk

“I have received some look books and viewed some ranges – it is exciting to see what is out there and support local.” Chivy, Owner at Seagulls of St Kilda

Seminar Series Highlights

The Melbourne Retail Festival Seminar Series 2019 was extremely popular with our attendees! A huge thank you to our host the wonderful Danielle Collis for leading insightful, authentic and knowledgeable discussions with our inspirational panellists.

First up was the Future of Retail seminar. Our fantastic speakers included fashion entrepreneur Melanie Sheppard, Coco & Lola’s founder Jessica Dunlop, Seagulls of Saint Kilda’s owner Chivy Chan and Lawrence from Brand Collective (Australia’s leading house of lifestyle brands). We loved this comment from Jess Dunlop: “I think that we are in a really exciting time in the retail industry now and I think that there is a lot of information out there that will challenge different opinions. What I think the core thing that everyone needs to remember is who you are as a brand and what you are telling to trying to tell your customer.”

On the Tuesday afternoon, we hosted our second seminar What Buyers Want. Our audience was very lucky to hear Australia’s top fashion buyers reveal exactly what they’re looking for. These fashion buyers included Jessica Dunlop from Coco & Lola, Sue Alali from General Pants Co, Peri Ridge from Husk and Hollie Sweet of the Lofft Fashion Agency. One great piece of advice from Peri Ridge was that when you write to a buyer you want to hit them with a great opening punch line to grab their attention and to also make sure your Instagram is up to scratch as this is the first thing that will likely look at.

Our third and final seminar was Social Shake Up! Our speakers included entrepreneur Effie Kats, ambassador Sarah Czarnuch and Kim Westwood of Shopping Links. It was also so beautiful to have Jeremy Meltzer from i=Change involved, as Danielle Collis mentioned on stage “we live in such a digital world, it’s beautiful that we can talk about social platforms who have meaning more than just image.” The discussion covered the social media landscape, authenticity, return on investment, measurement tools, brand to influencer relationships and long-term strategy.

Visitor Highlights

In addition to fashion buyers, industry professionals and influencers were welcome to attend the Melbourne Retail Festival to discover Australia’s coolest new brands.

“I think it's a terrific event, (a long time coming) and so important for our industry. May it continue to thrive.” – Melanie Sheppard

“I think it has been incredible to see these local brands showcasing here in the heart of Melbourne. It is amazing way to get your product seen and heard by the locals here. There is a level of insight that you won’t get online.” - Sarah Czarnuch, Former Miss Tourism Australia

“I think that new and emerging brands need to spend that time understanding how others have done it before. Knowledge, sharing, education – it is great for them.” – Kim Westwood, Shopping Links

Social Media Buzz

It was wonderful to see support not only from buyers but influencers on social media who are passionate about supporting local and emerging designers.

Thanks to Georgia Love, Karla Tonkich, Sarah Czarnuch and more for sharing the event with your followers.

What’s next?

If you are interested in connecting with industry professionals, registrations for Melbourne Retail Festival 2020 are now open.