From casual chic to 90s revival — our highlights from Australian Fashion Week

This week, Afterpay Australian Fashion Week has seen Sydney’s most style-savvy set hit the streets in fine form. Showcasing the best in Australian fashion (alongside some recognisable names from New Zealand too) the week has served to show how the industry ‘down under’ is still thriving.

From an innovative use of New Zealand wool to an inspired take on vacation-dressing, here are some of our highlights from the AAFW Resort ’23 runways.

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Effortless luxury at Esse
A brand built on the idea of timeless styles made with a focus on superior quality, Esse has made effortless luxury its calling card. Taking over the iconic Bennelong Restaurant at Sydney Opera House to showcase its new Edition No.08 collection, Esse served up a masterclass in restraint, where perfectly-proportioned tailoring met a cool oaky palette of contemporary neutrals. Alongside the ready-to-wear, Esse’s presentation highlighted an exciting collaboration the brand has undertaken with New Zealand handbag and leather goods label, Yu Mei — with every model sporting one of the brand’s elegant new bags. A partnership born from shared values (including functional luxury and high quality, regenerative materials), the sleek Yu Mei bags seen on the Esse runway offered the perfect finishing touch, and hinted at further collaborative projects to come. (Apparently the two brands are working on a bespoke colourway to be released later this year.)

Wynn Hamlyn.

Wynn Hamlyn’s Fashion Week debut
Another New Zealand name gracing Australian Fashion Week this year was Wynn Hamlyn — presenting a collection that captured the brand’s unique blend of wearable, everyday luxury with a distinctly laid-back edge. Taking us on a journey through bright neon moments, unexpected knitwear silhouettes (fast becoming a Wynn Hamlyn signature), showstopping handmade macramé pieces and grown-up tailoring, the brand offered a collection that was full of fun and finesse. One thing to note, however, was the puffer jackets. Born from Wynn Hamlyn’s relationship with Wisewool, the jackets had been created with insulated padding entirely made from unused wool (instead of the synthetic fibres or down usually used in pieces like this). Thanks to some creative sleight-of-hand, the lining of the jackets was allegedly able to be removed via a series of zips, allowing the wearer to re-fluff if necessary.

Matteau, Oroton.

Vacation vibes at Matteau and Oroton
Continuing in its quest to give us the ultimate capsule wardrobe, Matteau certainly didn’t stray from its signature elevated basics in its new collection — a chic, pared-back affair that conjured a sense of beachside vacations. Think relaxed trousers, flowing dresses and loose shirting that walked the line between undone and considered. Over at Oroton, the vacay vibes were slightly more on-the-nose, but no less enticing. From poolside-worthy prints to skin-baring vintage silhouettes and a good dose of colour, the looks at Oroton were sleek, simple and exactly what we will be throwing over a swimsuit when the weather warms up.

Bondi Born, Aje.

Colour, colour and more colour
From Bondi Born’s neon greens and lavender looks to Aje’s high-saturation to Karla Špetic’s surfer-girl pinks and blues, colour was applied courageously and generously throughout a number of the brands showing at this year’s Fashion Week. It’s a good indication of fashion’s optimism and the fact that the industry at large is emerging from the last two years ready to dress will aplomb again.

St. Agni.

St. Agni revives 90s minimalism
Column dresses, straight-across bodices and loosely-buttoned shirting set the tone at St. Agni, where silhouettes played into the 90s revival currently taking over our closets. Minimalism abounded with more than one look that felt reminiscent of Kate Moss’ iconic 90s era. Simplicity was the name of the game here, with looks that were unfussy but undeniably wearable.


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