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Melbourne Fashion Festival drives consumer spend of $784



Melbourne Fashion Festival has revealed the impact of its show in a new report. 

The 10-day event, which was the first significant fashion event to be staged in Australia following the COVID-19 shutdown, recorded a total of 307,360 live and digital attendances.

The festival showcased 172 events across Melbourne, including in the State Library and the National Gallery of Victoria, highlighting 570 designers, brands and creative practitioners. 

The festival also aided in Melbourne’s recovery following the lockdowns, with the Festival directly resulting in an average consumer spend of $784, a 7% increase year-on-year. 

Speaking to Ragtrader, MFF CEO Graeme Lewsey said that the festival helped to bring creativity and fun back to Melbourne, despite still being under COVID event restrictions. 

“We were able to highlight some of the magic that is Melbourne after coming out of a very long lockdown,” he said. 

“And people forget, we had a circuit breaker lockdown just prior to the Festival starting, so the highlight was the fact that we were able to fully stage the Festival. 

“We were really still under very strict major event COVID guidelines and a roadmap that was developed by not just the Victorian Government, but by all the different venues that we used,” he said. 

And while the 2021 event was staged in arguably one of the most challenging times in the Festival’s 25-year history, the support the event received from its members didn’t waver.

MFF membership rose 23% in 2021 and the Festival’s digital assets generated a social media reach of over 141 million.

Photo by Lucas Dawson. 

The engagement the organisation has with its members informed the launch of the digital magazine Shop the Runway, which also proved successful, Lewsey added. 

“We have an incredible membership of people that have actively signed up to be part of our loyal family. 

“And we ask them, ‘what should we do?’ ‘What should we do next?’ and we’ve been doing that for 25 years. 

“So the Shop The Runway digital magazine grew out of intelligence gathered from our members and from our participants, as well as innovation from the team. 

“Shop The Runway has been a feature highlight of the program for the last 10 years because we recognise that there is an economic outcome of the festival.

“That is a deliberate key result area for us to work towards for government, our partners and for the designers. 

“So the concept has always been about, ‘okay, we’re putting on this incredible program but how can you buy it straight away? How can we manage the concept of bricks and mortar and digital retailing, and how can we give consumers the best experience?’

“We needed the experience that they’ve just had at the Festival to linger. That’s when it became an obvious that a digital magazine really gives you that elongation, it gives you that sort of permanency of the Festival,” he said. 

Across the 10 days, the Shop The Runway magazine published eight issues featuring 600 shoppable items from 79 featured designers, connecting readers with the looks they loved straight from the runway, generating 131,740 views.


The debut of the Digital Runway Series, presented by Afterpay, also further enhanced the consumer connection to the Festival, allowing designers to digitally showcase their collections to global consumer audiences. 

MFF took place from March 11 to 20 2021. 

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