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By Sharmin Musca on October 11, 2010 in Other

Photo: Sharmin Musca

Photo: Sharmin Musca

It’s that time of year when fashion designers again send an array of eye-popping prints and bold hues down the runways in anticipation of the coming warmth of spring. But this year is a little different.

A mainstream retailer has acknowledged Australians of mixed ethnicity, with David Jones launching its spring/summer collection without their girl-next-door Miranda Kerr (Kerr left DJs after a successful five-year stint, but there were rumours of excessive salary demands and a diminished relevance to its customers), instead unveiling their new ambassador, the stunning half Chinese, half Portuguese model Jessica Gomes.

Many women across Australia, myself included, who as youngsters wished they were born with blonde hair and blue eyes, gave a collective cheer to DJs’ move towards embracing Australians of all ethnicities.

Internationally, models of ethnic ambiguity like Gomes are hugely popular, appealing to global brand campaigns as they can work across multiple markets, particularly the lucrative Asian market.

Asia has just leapfrogged the US to become the world’s biggest retail market with over 40% of global sales (nearly $4 trillion). This is due to young people having more disposable income than their parents ever did, particularly the Chinese middle class.

In Asia, inexpensive fast-fashion retail giants (think Zara, H#038;M, Uniqlo, Mango) are growing faster than you can blink, cashing in on the growing thirst for trend-led rather than brand name fashion.

Only after entering the Asian market did bolting on an Australian store or two become financially appealing (we really are the arse end of the world). So Australians hooked on the injection of fast-fashion from the likes of Zara and H#038;M have Asia to thank.

But all this choice comes at a price with our local boutiques and designers struggling to compete with the larger retailers’ economies of scale. Let’s hope others don’t meet the same fate as Lisa Ho or Kirrily Johnston, who sent the fashion world into a spin after going into voluntary administration despite notching up many years in the business.

On the streets this month I found…

Name: Rachel (and Sasha)
Occupation: Full-time mum
Lives: Rushcutters Bay
Fave Item This Season: Boyfriend jeans.
Street Style: Rachel wears a knit and sandals from Jac+Jack, bangle from Lotus Pod, necklace from Mimco, Cotton On men’s jeans and Tom Ford sunglasses. Sasha wears a Kids A Go Go dress (from Bali), Cotton On kids cardigan and Old Sole shoes.

Name: Annette
Occupation: Boutique owner (Paris Texas, Surry Hills)
Lives: Surry Hills
Fave Item This Season: Leopard print pant in red and blue by Nicholas.
Street Style: Annette wears a blouse by BZR, Winter Kate pants by Nicole Richie, Life With Bird clutch, Chronicles of Never sunnies and a necklace by Wild Fox.