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A New Fashion Accelerator Program is Hunting for Australia’s Next Dion Lee

After a not-very-positive year for Australia’s local design industry, it seems there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Creative Enterprises Australia has launched an accelerator program for fashion start-ups in an attempt to jump-start a few international career trajectories. CEA Fashion Business Accelorator Program is now open for applications, and up to four participants will be selected after panel interviews later this month.

“We have several programs here for emerging designers who are at the really early stages but this program is stepping it up a notch and looking for about four designers who are really ready to take their brand to an international platform,” program coordinator Cynthia Macnee told StartupSmart.

She continues, “We will be looking for designers who not only have a unique and strong design presence but also the drive and willingness to develop the business acumen they need to survive and thrive in Australia’s fashion industry and internationally.” 

Though it’s tough to make it as a fashion designer no matter which corner of the globe you’re based in, the program will address concerns unique to budding Dion Lees of the Southern Hemisphere. In particular, physical proximity to the New York, London, Milan and Paris runways, and season reversal. Only a handful of Australian designers have figured out how to work the latter to their advantage.

“Few designers have the broad set of left and right brain skills needed to operate a successful fashion business, and they fail to think of it as a business and therefore don’t cost things with the idea of clearing a margin and earning an income,” says Macnee.

The program will run for just over a year after it launches in February. Winners will be trained and mentored by both designers and business executives, including ex-David Jones head buyer David Bush. And while it’s based in Brisbane, candidates nationwide can reap the benefits via the wonders of Skype.

It might not come as much relief to the slew of local designers who’ve recently closed their labels amongst huge financial loss. But to the new wave of talent, it’s an incentive not to be disheartened by those events. With all the overseas high street chains poised to launch in Australia over the coming months, they need all the positivity they can get. 

via StartupSmart