QUT Creative Enterprise Australia has announced the launch of its 2016 fashion accelerator program, a five month course aimed at helping fashion entrepreneurs and designers to start, connect, grow, and scale their business.
Anna Rooke, CEO of QUT Creative Enterprise Australia, said, “The Fashion Accelerator program gives designers and fashion entrepreneurs the opportunity to master the skills needed to manage a successful business.”
Participants will engage in weekly workshops, business advice from mentors, planning strategies, production and costing, sales analysis and marketing.
The concept team have strong expertise in pattern-making, sampling, grading and small run production management that can help transform creative ideas into fashion businesses. Throughout the program participants will work with other creative entrepreneurs in a shared studio space that includes all the facilities to cut, make and create.
“The intensive program encompasses critical business components including technical and development, business and finance, range development and branding, marketing and public relations,” said Rooke.
The program is looking for products or design concepts with market potential, demonstrated creativity and design skills in fashion garments or accessories, and a commitment to growing and scaling a fashion venture.
The program has been operating now for four years, which has seen winners Christie Murray and Hayley Elsaesser showcased at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Since the program’s conception, brands like Gail Sorronda, SOOT, Monica Tovar and Christie Millinery have been developed and received national success.
The five month intensive program is valued at over $3,500, per month; the cost for successful applicants is $550 per month. As such, calling the program an ‘accelerator’ is a nisnomer; as we traditionally understand accelerators in the startup space, businesses are given seed funding in exchange for equity, rather than having to pay to participate. Instead, this seems more like a straight business development program.
Still, there is a need for such a program given that Australia’s fashion industry is only just beginning to see the influence and potential of technology.
As Claudia Barriga-Larriviere wrote for Startup Daily after FashHack, Australia’s first fashion tech hackathon earlier this year, “fashion and tech are a reluctant partnership…tech thinks fashion might be beneath them and doesn’t take fashion seriously. Businesses like The Iconic are often not considered to be in ‘fashion’ but rather it’s an ‘e-commerce’ site. On the opposite end, fashion has historically been afraid of tech and has its own set of prescribed condescension: unless you are sketching a design or cutting a pattern, you are not in fashion.”
Alumni of the Creative Enterprise Australia program have gone on to success, with Christie Murray, a demo day winner, becoming head of CHRISTIE Millinery, a luxury headwear brand whose designs grace the big race days in Australia. Since the accelerator, Murray has showcased her designs at Australian Fashion Week in April and also collaborates regularly with Westfield.
Applications for the program close on January 15.
Image: Anna Rooke.