Victoria revealed as Australia’s $1 Billion fashion manufacturing capital

Australian Fashion Council reveals ground-breaking research cementing Victoria’s status as the nation’s clothing manufacturing capital with the sector valued at almost $1 billion


SYDNEY, 5 March 2024 – For the first time, the Australian Fashion Council (AFC) in partnership with Epson Australia, commissioned RMIT to quantify the true value of the Victorian textile, clothing & footwear (TCF) manufacturing sector.


Craig Heckenberg, Managing Director of Epson Australia


Due for release next month, the full report - ‘Moving the Needle: The State of Play of Victoria’s Textile, Clothing & Footwear Manufacturing Sector’ - revealed Victoria has the industry's most complete supply chain nationally. 


Announced by the AFC at a PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival panel:

● Victoria’s TCF manufacturing industry is valued at $960 million in economic value and employs 10,300 people, more than any other state. (NSW is the second highest employing 9,000 people)  

● Victoria’s TCF sector exports are valued at $318 million, $100 million more than its wine exports

● Victoria is best positioned to lead Australia’s transition into a circular and sustainable economy due to its most complete clothing ecosystem, including fibre, manufacturing, retail, wholesale, repair and second-hand retail.


The data also highlights the undervalued significance of the sector to the broader economy and exposing the complex nature of this evolving and transforming industry and how parts of it are hidden due to the current ABS classification system.


With its eco-system of fibre, manufacturing, retail and wholesale, alongside repair and second-hand retail, Victoria has the most complete clothing supply chain in Australia. 


Marianne Perkovic, Chair of the AFC, emphasised Victoria's unique opportunity to provide truly sustainable, high-quality products through a ‘farm to front row’ approach. 


Marianne Perkovic, Chair of the AFC


“Victoria can be a global leader in advanced, sustainable manufacturing, while boosting jobs and developing skills in an industry that generates a huge $960 million. And this is only the beginning of what this industry can transform into, not only economically but environmentally, accelerating our just-transformation into a circular economy by 2030 and net zero by 2050,” Perkovic said.


Despite a sharp decline in Australian manufacturing, generally this initial research shows employment, exports, imports and revenue in the TCF sector have stabilised. 


The AFC is now calling for hidden parts of the industry to be reclassified and for the ABS to provide true data that ultimately support further education, training and upskilling in the sector. 


“By taking into account every phase of the life cycle of clothing changes how we understand the industry, from being linear to circular, the jobs and skills of the future, and how we can better support diverse career pathways for women across the sector,” Dr Jenny Underwood, Associate Dean of Fashion and Textiles Technology at RMIT, explains.


Another recommendation of the report will be to optimise microfactories, a testament to the sector's adaptability but also a beacon for the future of sustainable production. Microfactory technology has allowed small, on-demand and quick-to-market merchandise offerings to inject newfound vitality into the industry.


“By embracing the latest digital printing technology with localised, demand-driven manufacturing, these nimble entities significantly reduce waste and enhance efficiency, aligning perfectly with the principles of the circular economy while delivering speed to market,” Craig Heckenberg, Managing Director of Epson Australia, said.


The AFC concurs, with Perkovic adding, “We call upon policymakers to provide targeted funding and support that can be a catalyst for the growth of our industry through activities such as microfactories, bolstering the circular economy and securing a prosperous, sustainable future for this vital sector. We are excited to release the final report in April and reveal how this overlooked and undervalued sector can deliver even more than $960 million.”


Craig Heckenberg concluded, “Our partnership with the AFC has allowed us to reveal game-changing data that will be an important tool to advance and futureproof an industry with huge potential, both economically and environmentally. Epson Australia is fully committed to supporting and helping grow the fashion and textile industry by using all of our local expertise and resources. We are excited at the prospect and promise these first insights show and for Epson Australia to play a significant part in this journey.” 

The initial report findings are available from from 5 March 2024.