Yet again here in WA we have had an incredible fashion year in terms of our amazing local design talent and the ranges they have put out into the market place.  I have once again been thrilled to see the evolution of some of the labels and the creative direction others have taken.

I thought I would put into words, with some pictures, my top 5 WA designers for the year and on reflection this is no easy task because I have been really impressed with so many of our local talent and the wonderful work that they have put into the marketplace in further building their labels and creating or adding to their followings here, nationally and in some cases internationally.  I am blessed in my role as STYLEAID Event Manager to have the benefit of seeing, getting to know and admiring the wonderful array of design talent that we have here in Western Australia. I have watched with awe as it has evolved since the very early days of STYLEAID nearly 17 years ago from what could be described as a fledgling industry with some notable designers but fledgling never the less to a strong and vibrant industry that is strongly supported by the Department of Culture and the Arts and a range of local companies and businesses.

There are now some amazing designers, who are resisting the draw of being based outside of Perth, continuing to shape and grow their labels and create truly inspiring fashion.  It should be noted however that there for every success story there are those that do not succeed for a variety of reasons.  No one would ever say that breaking into the fashion industry here in WA was an easy task and unless you have the funding behind you it can be a really hard road to travel.  Keeping your designs true to your creative ideals whilst also being aware of the commercial side of the business can sometimes see labels falter and fall away.

As I have mentioned before on my blog, WA at times can be a very conservative place for fashion and this poses a range of challenges for local designers.  Sometimes they can stay here but find that the market for their label are stronger in the Eastern States or overseas, where they will sometimes find a less conservative, more fluid approach to fashion and more of a risk to take with their fashion choices.  I would love to see us here in the West become a little more adventurous and daring, especially for men and the choices that we make but know it will be a bit of a tough road to climb to get that happening but I am sure as we move further down that road that this might happen.

It takes stores like Dilettante  www.dilettante.net/who have an expert eye on current trends and ignore that arch conservatism and chose to take those chances and stock a range of wonderfully diverse and exciting menswear options.  From Vivienne Westwood and beyond this is fantastic fashion that I love to explore and experience.

This year as also celebration years for some, including the amazingly talented and humble Aurelio Costarella www.aureliocostarella.com/ who celebrated 30 years in the fashion industry with a brilliant retrospective at the WA Museum museum.wa.gov.au/whats-on/aurelio-costarella-30-year-retrospective that showcases the wonderful evolution of a truly inspirational designer who continues to delight with his creativity and passion for the clothes that he creates and is the reason that he is one of my favourite WA designers for 2013!  After 30 years Aurelio never ceases to delight and amaze with his creative vision and the beauty of his clothing with each season.  Stocked locally, nationally and internationally he is a true WA success story and should be lauded for his incredible talent and success!

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A stunning shot from the WA Museum Aurelio Costarella retrospective from photographer Chantel Concei.

I have been honoured to have know and seen the growth of designer Alvin Fernandez label Ae’lkemi aelkemi.com/ over the past years from his very first showing up to his current 2013 Lumiere collection.  He constantly delights with his colour, form, fabric choices and his understanding of high end women’s wear.  He did do a couple of menswear ranges and I do hope that this is something that he again decides to go back to as his suits, shirts and jackets were beautifully tailored and again his choice of fabrics, patterns and colour were inspired and I loved and still have a number of pieces that I treasure.  He is another designer who is humble in his manner, but extremely talented and another wonderful human being whose approach to his design evolves with the seasons and is a delight to see.

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From the current ae’lkemi range.

Of the newer labels that I have written about before on my blog and is one of my favourite designers in Perth is the gorgeous Nikki and Isobel from NikkiLoueza www.nistore.com.au/  who have a minimalistic and functional approach to their fashion.  Originally designed for women they have seen a crossover of interest from some men (especially in the Melbourne marketplace) for their clothing.  With a heavy Japanese influence they use a very distinct palette of black, grey and white to create a strong story in each of their pieces.  I am in awe of their wonderfully simple designs that flatter all shapes and sizes and are a real delight to wear.  I am looking forward to seeing what direction their next seasons clothes takes and how this label evolves in the next year!

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The Japanese influence shines through the designs of NikkiLoueza!

My next favourite for 2013 is a swimwear label that I have also highlighted here on my blog.  Louise Bond is the design dynamo behind Bikini Atoll  www.bikiniatollswimwear.com and I have been so impressed to see her label develop over the past couple of seasons to be both daring and fresh in its approach but to also take up the rein and design some fresh and colourful menswear bathers as well.  With her current range including designs that have included die cut neoprene panels to create a truly individual and exciting look for on the beach, at your favourite resort or by the pool, it is a delight to see the exciting direction that Louise has taken the label and how it continues to evolve.

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The current Bikini Atoll range inspires!

Finally a menswear designer who will not be a surprise to anyone that follows my blog because this label and the designer behind it are truly inspiring and push the boundaries in terms of style, form, the use of tailoring, colours and fabrics to create fashion that does not disappoint.  Shane Newton and his label Zsadar zsadar.com/ never rest of their laurels and constantly push the envelope in his evolutionary quest for unique and interesting menswear options.  I would love to see a range of local retailers embrace this label and see it stocked widely as Zsadar really deserves to be seen and appreciated and worn by more men.  This year I loved the direction that Shane took with his range and at STYLEAID there was a huge buzz around the room when his current range hit the catwalk.  This is one menswear label that never disappoints!

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Never one to rest on his laurels – Zsadar delights!

So there you have it my top 5 WA designers…all worthy of our support.  For the local industry to continue to grow and thrive we need to all get behind them and support these labels and the many others that are now in the marker place.  We need to nurture new designers whilst at the same time supporting those established ones to continue to produce their ranges here in Perth.  This was we can continue to see the evolution and growth of the WA Fashion Industry.