Published: October 19, 2015

From Adelaide to Los Angeles, Australian Fashion Labels is revolutionising the fashion world through innovative business practices and a strong local focus.

Founded by fashion forward duo Dean and Melanie Flintoft in 2007, Australian Fashion Labels was launched in response to the global financial crisis.

“We saw a huge gap for clothing that was well-designed with a high-end aesthetic but at an affordable price point,” she said.

Today, Australian Fashion Labels continues to buck the trend of widespread economic and industry downturn with success based firmly on supporting local talent and leveraging their product to new markets.

At launch, Australian Fashion Labels had three labels to its name – Cameo, Finders Keepers and Keepsake. That has now grown to include, The Fifth, Keepsake Intimates and a rebrand for C/meo Collective, while also introducing TY-LR. The latter officially launched in August this year and has already grabbed the attention of international buyers and was recently snapped on American model Kendall Jenner.

Australian Fashion Label’s growth has also been underscored by the opening of the flagship store in Rundle Mall, BNKR – an extension of their online shop Fashion Bunker – in mid-2014.

It is this arm of the business that is now leading the international charge with a BNKR pop-up store open in Los Angeles while the downtown, permanent premises is completed, due to open in late 2015.

Australian Fashion Labels also has a business base in China, another soon to be established in Hong Kong and more than 3500 stockists worldwide including Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales.

Yet the directors maintain the empire flourishes because of its Adelaide base, the directors maintain.

“There is so much great talent here that we have been fortunate enough to tap into,” Melanie said.

“We have also been able to bring some incredible people from interstate and overseas to Adelaide to live – and have attracted others who have moved from Adelaide back home.”

One such talent is TY-LR head designer Chris Kontos who returned to Adelaide after years living interstate to create a signature label under the umbrella of Australian Fashion Labels.

Alongside the professional nous of being part of the Australian Fashion Labels stable is the sense of belonging and support and it’s that attitude that keeps business bubbling.

“Australian Fashion Labels runs like a family and Adelaide is like a big family, so it’s an extremely nurturing place to run a business,” Melanie said.

Adelaide’s size is also key to Australian Fashion Labels’ success, allowing them to foster a wealth of contacts and create ample market share among all industry competitors.

“We are able to do what we do and be individual because we aren’t always checking over our shoulders to see what our competitors are doing. It’s a great advantage,” Melanie said.

This year Australian Fashion Labels received support via the South Australian State Government’s Unlocking Capital for Jobs program. This allowed them to invest in new office headquarters on North Terrace and create about 50 new jobs. The Unlocking Capital program provided $50 million of financial guarantees that allowed Australian Fashion Labels to secure up to $250 million of bank funding to continue expanding their business and fast-tracked their capability to push into global markets.

“This opportunity (allows) us to expand our workforce, resources and markets by creating labels within new demographics of advanced contemporary womenswear, menswear and footwear,” Dean said.