Your comprehensive guide to Melbourne Fashion Week’s 2021 program


Our picks from the program.

After yet another year that seemed unbearably bleak and devoid of fun, the return of Melbourne Fashion Week (M/FW) is certainly something to be celebrated. Running from November 15 to 21, M/FW’s packed program is full of must-see shows and events that celebrate the city’s incredible designers, its iconic retail spaces and the creative community at large.

M/FW’s 2021 campaign, aptly titled A New Return, was shot remotely and is a true testament to the resilience those in the creative industry have had to show in recent times. Photographed by artist Atong Atem, the series of self-portraits, which you can view in the gallery above, features local brands like Verner, Romance Was Born and Maara.

Now in its 27th year, the 2021 program will see M/FW undergoing a revamp of sorts. It will be moving away from the traditional fashion week model and instead, will be taking over a selection of the city’s unique venues.

  • M/FW’s 2021 program runs from November 15 to 21
  • There are 10 premium runways and 100 events and sessions, 250 participating designers and 300 retailers
  • More than 50 per cent of the program is free
  • Tickets are on sale from 11am Wednesday October 20

You can expect quite the array of must-see events, including runways in an aquarium (I’m particularly excited about this one), fascinating panel talks on hot button topics like greenwashing and NFTs, outdoor exhibitions and collaborations with some of the city’s best hospitality venues.

Continuing the festival’s focus on championing a more sustainable, considered approach to fashion, M/FW 2021 will be a carbon-neutral certified event, and $1 of every ticket sale will go towards carbon offset.

The program’s mix of independent, established and emerging designers and brands continues in the same vein as last year’s program, by prioritising inclusivity and sustainability and championing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island culture, as well as other cultures, within the Australian fashion industry. Read on for our picks from the program.

Runway ready

This year’s runways will be taking place at some of Melbourne’s most impressive venues, and will each be available to view online for free following the live shows. Topping the must-see list for me is the Aquarium Runway, taking place at Melbourne’s Sea Life Aquarium on November 17.

In a first for M/FW, the aquarium’s underwater world will provide the backdrop for a runway packed with slow, sustainable fashion designers like Elk, Búl, SZN and FJ favourite Sister Studios.

Discover more up-and-coming local designers in our Fashion section. 

Another highlight will be the Fed Square Runway on November 16. This free runway, made in collaboration with proud Yorta Yorta man and creative director and stylist Rhys Ripper, will be a celebration of emerging and established Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designers.

Featuring some incredible designers – Amber Days, House of Darwin, Kirrikin Australia, Liandra Swim and Nungala Creative – there will be vibrant colours and prints, designs that tell stories and a strong focus on community, with Wurundjeri Elders conducting a smoking ceremony prior to the event.

And two more to add to your must-see list: the Underground Runway on November 20, taking place in the MCG’s underground carpark and featuring some personal favourites like A.BCH, Blanca by Reliquia Collective, Verner and Kloke, and the National Gallery of Victoria runway, which promises to “take you on an immersive journey of fashion and art”.

Expect installations and live performances, as designers like Carla Zampatti and Romance Was Born as well as two of our favourite Melbourne retailers, Dot Comme and Reina Melbourne, take the stage. And to keep your finger on the pulse when it comes to the city’s best emerging talent, the Student Collections Runway is always worth your while.

Talking the talk

Runways aside, the M/FW Conversations series, presented in partnership with Creative Victoria, will feature four talks where industry experts explore of the moment topics. Now, I might be a little biased here, but I strongly recommend catching FJ’s very own Managing Editor, Giulia Brugliera, as she facilitates the Shifting Fashion’s Status Quo panel on November 15.

Featuring Edwina McCann, Vogue Australia’s Editor-In-Chief, and Kellie Hush, the Acting CEO of the Australian Fashion Council, it will unpack how we can begin to look beyond fashion’s traditional business models and buying habits, and reflect on what the upheaval of the last two years has taught us about both consumers and the industry at large.

The Beyond Greenwashing panel on November 17, hosted by sustainable fashion expert Clare Press, will question what’s next for sustainable fashion. Featuring industry changemakers like Courtney Holm, the founder of sustainable fashion label A.BCH, and Eloise Bishop, the Country Road Group’s Head of Sustainability, it’s set to be a fascinating and important conversation during a time where ‘sustainability’ is fast becoming a buzzword used by brands to allay customers’ purchasing guilt.

Capsule collections

The Fashion Capsules series, presented by Creative Victoria, is set to add an exciting interactive element to M/FW. Taking place at iconic locations across the city, they are intended to “spark intrigue and celebrate some of the industry’s most innovative creative talents”. Running from October 25 through to November 21, they will showcase 76 emerging and established designers as well as the works of 19 artists.

I’m most looking forward to Fashion Capsule Two, which will provide a window into the world of some of Melbourne’s most interesting creatives as they take up residence at Emporium Melbourne. The space will be ever-evolving but expect live photoshoots, drag performances, millinery, fashion installations and more.

Also piquing my interest is Capsule 5, titled Comune di Rialto, which will be a kitschy ode to iconic Roman architectural sites, like the Trevi Fountain. Taking place at the Rialto, this playful capsule will feature some of FJ’s favourite up-and-coming designers, like Amy Baran, Moss Tunstall, Bichon Pockets and Jordan Gogos, as well as firm favourites like P.A.M and Verner.

There’s so much more on offer for M/FW’s incredible 2021 program, including pop-up runways and independent events like the Modest Runway and Bella Unsigned Model Search, so have a browse of the program, secure your tickets and get your looks ready. We’ll see you there!

Learn more about Melbourne Fashion Week here and here.

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