Every year, here in Australia, the Australian Fashion Council (AFC) deliberates on the Emerging Fashion Designer Award, a prize that seeks to recognise and encourage the growth of homegrown creative talent. This year, the award is presenting its eighth iteration in partnership with Westpac Private Bank—and the award’s three finalists have now been announced: sisters Laura May and Hannah Gibbs, the brains behind their brand, Nagnata, Brian Huynh, creative director of Melboune-based label Mndatory, and Richard Jarman, creative director of the resortwear-focused label Commas.
The three finalists were chosen from a group of more than 45 of Australia’s emergent designers by a panel of fashion experts and industry professionals—and, in a competition first, both menswear and womenswear labels were allowed to apply. Amongst the judges were Vogue Australia’s editor-in-chief Edwina McCann, Marc Freeman, the director of his namesake label Camilla and Marc, stylist Caterina Scardino and sourcing strategist Melinda Tually.
For the second year, the panel’s decision was informed not just by aesthetic but by sustainability. Nagnata, Mndatory and Commas are driven by an ethos of ethical practice and consumer transparency, and symbolise a future for fashion shaped by conscience, diversity and openness. All three labels will present their collections in April alongside household designers like Manning Cartell, Oroton and Scanlan Theodore as part of a designer showcase. The winner, who will be announced that evening, will receive a prize valued at over $120,000, including a Vogue Australia lookbook, a $10,000 cash grant, and two mentoring sessions provided by the AFC.
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