Off the back of its debut runway show last month at Afterpay Australia Fashion Week 2023, We Wear Australian launches its third campaign, captured by the photographer and longtime collaborator Pierre Toussaint in Western Australia’s cinematic Great Southern Region. Helmed by Showroom-X‘s Kelly Atkinson and Richard Poulson, We Wear Australian was founded in 2020 in an effort to bolster support for the local fashion and retail industries during Covid-19 lockdowns. Across in 2020 and 2021, the campaign raised over $1.7 million in retail sales amongst participating Australian brands.
This year, the initiative evolves with a direct to consumer platform harnessing the digital infrastructure of e-tailer Showroom-X, allowing participating brands (including Jac + Jack, Esse Studios and Camilla and Marc) to access international consumers and ship directly to the rest of the world through a single-source destination.
“Digital awareness requires capital [and] spend,” says Atkinson of the decision to launch the platform. “We band the brands together and use that sponsorship money to invest in international ad spend, gaining them the exposure they may not have had access to before. We then utilised the framework and commercial infrastructure of Showroom-X to make sales possible. We have international duties collected at checkout and prepaid international shipping, all of which a small brand may not have access.”
The platform announcement is supported by the campaign shoot, styled by Atkinson and starring Western Australian-raised models Jess Gomes and Billie Jean. In the lead-up to the launch, Atkinson talked with T Australia about We Wear Australian’s success to date and the awe-inspiring campaign set.
We Wear Australian was conceived to bolster the local fashion industry during the nationwide COVID-19 lockdowns. What was the response to the initiative like at the time?
The response was tremendous – our first iteration had a discount code and a hashtag. Over the following six months, we had over 170 brands participate and generated over $1.75 mil in sales across the brands. The second iteration brought the campaign. Again, we had a massive amount of traffic directed to the non-commerce 157,000 people visited, so we have decided to take this iteration to the next level with the commerce activation.
Why have you continued with campaigns in the years since?
Dedication to industry and cause. Rich and I sincerely believe the Australian fashion industry has such identifiable value and design. And I love nothing more than discovering the emerging talent we have year after year.
Why was now the right time to launch the direct-to-consumer arm of We Wear Australian, and what do you hope to provide to consumers with the platform?
We saw the traffic from the last campaign and thought, if we can do that in Australia alone, what can we do internationally… Just tailor the imagery to the international market. All of the ad sets for the new campaign are aimed at targeting an international audience.
Can you tell our readers a little about the new campaign shoot – where did you capture it, and what was the experience like?
This campaign was based on reflection. How [the pandemic] has made consumers reflect on who they invest in, and why. And, similarly, brands: reflection on how they want to operate in the new post-Covid industry. Do they subscribe to traditional sales models or move more to pre-order? We have [had] a conscious shift in how we want to be in business, in life. Covid showed us how to slow down – forced our hand, yes… but I tried to recapture that stillness in the imagery and film.
The campaign was shot again with the incredibly supportive sponsor Tourism Western Australia. We ventured down south for four days to the Great South-west, shooting in numerous locations like the iconic Greens Pool (Koorabup on Menang Noongar country) in Denmark and Albany. We went to the Wind Farm: Moodrenup, Menang Noongar country and The Gap (Kinjarling, on Menang Noongar country). These locations were so surreal, and ancient-feeling. The rocks were so amazingly moulded by wind over time, and we embraced the nature aspect and let the land shine [through] the imagery.
We were a group of 18 people, but we moved quickly – the cast, the crew – it was effortless … best shoot of my life. Such fantastic energy ran through the whole campaign. And that shows in all the imagery.
Tell us about the We Wear Australian x Afterpay runway showcase at this year’s AAFW. It was such a mammoth undertaking; what was the production process like for you, and how did the industry respond?
The #WeWearAustralian x Afterpay runway show allowed us to re-engage Australian consumers with a new medium and re-launch the campaign for its third iteration. It had a very different energy – the younger, cooler brother of the visual campaign. A true celebration of the Australian fashion industry.
Afterpay was terrific in helping bring my vision to life, and they had so much more experience in show formats than me – this was my first. So I learnt from the team along the way. It was so amazing to have that guidance.
Studio Messa is such an accomplished creative agency. They are the best at what they do in Australia, and I always wanted them on board. They brought the set to life and helped bring the tone and feel of Australia to Carriageworks in Gallery 1. I remember pitching Pete, the owner; I had a concept and nothing else! Four months later I had a budget, a team and a show-closing AAFW 2023. That’s the magic of #WeWearAustralian. And there are so many more exciting opportunities to follow on now.