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October 19, 2023

10 years in South Australian fashion

Our long-time fashion editor reflects on a decade of success stories in South Australian fashion news.

  • Words: Sharmonie Cockayne
  • Pictures: Supplied

A decade ago, I was really into wearing a particularly ridiculous chunky necklace adorned with six neon-pink flamingos. You couldn’t pay me enough to wear it today.


This article first appeared in our 10 Years of CityMag, Spring 2023 edition, which is on streets now.

Looking back at our past fashion choices usually elicits some level of embarrassment. We tend to believe we’ve evolved into more refined versions of ourselves, that we know how to not be ‘cringe’ now. But I’m not convinced we have. I think we’re just vibing with different trends. Give it another 10 years, and we’ll likely look back at our 2013 outfits with newfound respect and admiration, and we’ll probably be sifting through our closets for pieces that work for whichever trends inevitably resurface.

So, should we wholeheartedly embrace nostalgia, even if it means revisiting the peplums, oversized belts and statement necklaces of the 2010s? Because, 10 years ago, Adelaide’s fashion industry was actually kinda slay.

 By 2013, globalisation, the internet and fast fashion firmly penetrated South Australia’s fashion sector, breathing new life into an industry that was on the decline. This transformation gave designers the newfound flexibility to design from Adelaide while outsourcing manufacturing, resulting in the birth of Australian Fashion Labels (founded in 2007, and now known as Australian Fashion Group) and their associated brands: C/MEO Collective, Finders Keepers, The Fifth, Keepsake, Jaggar, and TY-LR. The designers used to sell samples at a stall at the Gilles Street Markets, back when they were actually on Gilles Street.

In 2013, we still had iconic Adelaide-based fashion designers George Gross & Harry Who, the world-renowned designers who had dressed everyone from Princess Diana to Elle Macpherson during their four-decade reign in Adelaide. Liza Emanuele also operated from her King William Road premises until winding up in 2017.

 Adelaideans continue to thrive in the fashion world. Christine Centenera, Editor-at-Large of Vogue Australia, doubles as co-founder of fashion brand WARDROBE.NYC, which recently released a collaboration with Hailey Bieber. Model Adut Akech was awarded ‘Model of the Year’ in 2018 and 2019, and in 2019 she won the ‘Model of the Year’ award at the British Fashion Awards. Drew Villani served as the Artistic Director of 3.1 Phillip Lim from 2017 to 2018 and has held the role of Senior Director of Global Creative for Calvin Klein since 2021, living and working in New York City alongside his wife Tania Debono
(another impressive Adelaidean).

Fashion stylist Lilli Millhiser is also based in New York City, boasting an impressive client roster including Glossier, Salvatore Ferragamo, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta and more. Sydney-based fashion stylist Nicole Bonython-Hines has held prominent positions such as Fashion Director of Australian ELLE, Senior Fashion Editor-at-Large at Madison, and Fashion Director of CLEO.

Aviators and the Amaro Instagram filter — how 2013


Meanwhile, London-based Jeffery Thompson is about to begin his new role leading the art direction team across Wonderland magazine’s four titles: Wonderland, Man About Town, Rollacoaster and Amazing.

Our homegrown fashion designers are also making waves globally. Paolo Sebastian was worn by Canadian television presenter Keltie Knight to the Met Gala in 2018, and often does trunk shows at fashion week in Paris. House of Campbell showcased their designs at New York Fashion Week in 2018 and has stocklists in Paris. Acler is regularly worn by celebrities around the world, including Beyoncé in 2017 and Kourtney Kardashian in 2018. Sally Phillips remains an iconic South Australian fashion house, enjoying their second decade of operation in Adelaide.


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 We’ve experienced our fair share of fashion events here in Adelaide, including the Adelaide Fashion Festival (2008-2018), Attitude Magazine’s ‘A Night of Fashion’ at the Art Gallery of South Australia (2012-2015); sustainability-focussed Slow Fashion Festival (2017-2020); and we’re now in our second year of Adelaide Fashion Week, which last year featured a fashion parade at the Art Gallery of South Australia showcasing over 40 local designers.

 In 2020, Adelaide welcomed its first fashion industry body, the South Australian Fashion Industries Association (SAFIA), initiated by Couture+Love+Madness designer and former Adelaide Fashion Festival Creative Director, Cristina Tridente.

 Unlike that flamingo necklace I wore in 2013, South Australia’s fashion scene is still something to be proud of and still producing some of the most talented and successful people working in the industry.

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