A Seat for Everyone: How Brisbane Fashion Week is Flipping the Narrative
Star-studded front rows, eye-wateringly expensive couture and lavish parties – fashion week the world over can often seem like an unattainable dream. And as the discourse around fashion’s broader accessibility reaches fever pitch, fashion week remains by its very design, inaccessible.
Founded by Tanya Bali and Kulbinder Singh, Brisbane Fashion Week Australia (BFWA) wants to turn that on its head. Showcasing the best of the river city from 26–30 September, the concept is built on a foundation of diversity and inclusion to ensure everyone has a seat at the runway. Here Tanya tells us more.
photos THE PHOTO STUDIO AND MISHA DUTKOVA
What’s exciting right now about the Brisbane fashion scene?
The team and I are excited about the diversity and inclusion that is at the forefront of our fashion industry’s social agenda and we are ecstatic to be a leader in this evolution. Being an ethnically diverse team, it is very important to us that people from different walks of life are celebrated and seen in our society. We are also incredibly excited to see the fresh talent that continues to emerge from Brisbane. Our values are deeply aligned to showing this city and the world the talent that Brisbane has to offer as we feel that our city is immensely dynamic.
photos THE PHOTO STUDIO AND MISHA DUTKOVA
What makes BFWA special in the calendar of fashion events?
The events and operators that we have brought together as part of BFWA is what makes our events stand out, as well as being deeply special to the Brisbane fashion arts and culture scene. We have tapped into different markets and communities to deliver a fashion week where there is something for everyone. With a warehouse launch party hosted by The Photo Studio, fashion markets by No.One Network, a women’s empowerment panel hosted by Ovolo Hotel, to the luxe after party hosted at Lina Rooftop and runway shows galore (to name a few), Brisbane Fashion Week Australia is delivering pure magic to Brisbane’s events calendar.
We always have and always will be pushing the message of diversity and inclusion and have worked tirelessly to ensure that our events include some of the most diverse models and designers that we have seen across the fashion calendar. BFWA has an energy that attracts and warmly invites all to enjoy and participate as it is very important to us to empower individuals to lead the next generation of fashion in Brisbane and to bring fresh, innovative ideas to the scene.
photos COURTESY OF BFWA
Tell us about some of the designers featured during Brisbane Fashion Week 2022…
We have a top-tier lineup of world class fashion designers showcasing during the week. On Thursday night, we have an exclusive runway by Rachel Burke. Rachel Burke is a practising multidisciplinary artist, designer, and author who has worked with companies such as Disney, LEGO, Barbie, Airbnb, Mecca, My Little Pony and has a client list including Miley Cyrus, Lauren Conrad, Kesha, Mindy Kaling, Blue Ivy, Dannii Minogue, and RuPaul’s Drag Race stars: Kim Chi, Naomi Smalls and Detox.
Following Rachel is the Finale Runway that will showcase Australia’s top emerging designers. Our designers include Samantha Saint James (recent winner of Afterpay Australian Fashion Week’s Next Gen program), Simone Ellis, Moola Moola, Moreno Marcos, Sarah Hickey, Isabella Charles, Austin Designs, Pigsuit and Astasia.
We are overjoyed to be showcasing some of Australia’s leading talent and we look forward to delivering a runway like no other.
photos COURTESY OF RACHEL BURKE FOR BFWA
What does sustainability look like for BFWA?
Sustainability for BFWA looks like a shift away from fast-fashion brands and a social movement towards emerging talent producing quality and limited pieces and upcycled fashion. We want to remind people that circular, high-quality, timeless garments are the true essence of fashion, function and individual expression. Many of our events, such as the Shop Your Local Fashion Market and Silk + Squeeg hosted by No.One Network and Back Dock Arts, promote supporting local talent and education on thrifting and upcycling.
Diversity is an ongoing issue and focus within the fashion industry. How has BFWA prioritised diversity and inclusivity in your runways and events?
Inclusivity and diversity are crucial to us as founders and the team at BFWA. We are all from ethnically diverse backgrounds and are very proud to have a platform where we can facilitate inclusion for others. Aside from our open casting calls without exclusion of age or disability, to ensure that inclusivity and diversity are prioritised, we have worked closely with Zebedee (a modelling agency representing models with disabilities, visible differences, alternative appearances and LGBTQIA+) to ensure that people of all abilities and groups are given the opportunity to participate in the runway events.
What events are you personally excited about during BFWA?
Each event has a special place in our hearts! Each event brings something unique to the week and everyone involved has been working at full throttle to ensure we deliver an absolute fashion extravaganza!