01 Mar 2016

Getting to know Australian Fashion Chamber's Courtney Miller

Here we chat with the founding General Manager of the Australian Fashion Chamber, Courtney Miller

Getting to know Australian Fashion Chamber's Courtney Miller

Here we chat with the founding General Manager of the Australian Fashion Chamber, Courtney Miller

What is your role and how did you get involved with the AFC?

I’m the General Manager of the AFC which generally means everything from briefing the Foreign Minister with Edwina McCann through to putting together our media wall for a function. We’re a small organisation and laying the foundations at the moment which makes it really exciting and challenging.

I got involved in a bit of a roundabout way while heading up comms for the Museum of Contemporary Art. I’ve always been fascinated by fashion and it struck me as a really interesting endeavour. One of my first interview questions was – why doesn’t this exist already?

What does a typical day look like for you?

I always start with a swim, surf or yoga at North Bondi. It may sound clichéd but the ocean keeps me sane when I talk to the fashion industry all day! I get coffee at our local Shuk and head into the office.

I usually have a million meetings; I try and get out to visit various members’ studios at least one day every week and talk face-to-face. Fashion is such a tactile industry and I think it really helps to see and understand designers in their own spaces. I am also generally pretty open to new people with unusual ideas—sometimes it’s a complete waste of time and others it’s made phenomenal things happen.

I have two interns who are awesome and I’m so grateful for. I really think it’s so important to help the next generation to build their knowledge but also to understand their perspectives and incorporate their ideas into what we’re doing.

Fashion has tonnes of events—some fabulous, some unnecessary and some you’re really not sure about. I think this is what makes us interesting but it can also be a real distraction—you have to keep a balance and keep coming back to what is a priority.

Why do you think the partnership is important between AFC and AMP Capital Shopping Centres?
An industry is an ecosystem—without one part, nothing else works. You need the big guys, you need the littles ones and everything and every part in between. I often say, you wouldn’t have Miranda Kerr without a local fashion week and a strong local media industry. Whether it’s a model, a photographer, the fashion industry CEO or the designer, you have to start learning somewhere and unless you have a local industry you can’t.
The AMP Capital partnership is, and continues to be, supportive at a critical time for our industry and although I’m bias, the AFC simply could not be as effective without it. It’s a symbiotic relationship.
What’s your favourite event on the AFC calendar?
We do some fun events if I do say so myself so it’s hard to choose. I have to admit that I love going to Paris twice a year to do our seasonal showroom but
but our annual Vivid event with AMPCSC is pretty special. It’s the moment where the whole industry comes together, forgets who they’re competing against and drops everything for one evening.

That doesn’t happen very often.

Shoes or handbags?

Shoes. I love a good funky shoe! Most of the time I’m running around, so my staple is black ankle boots but I do sport a different heel when I can.

Favourite designer?

I couldn’t possibly say! That would be like picking a favourite child and they’re all so different and wonderful in such a variety of ways.

Having said that, I do think it’s amazing we have brands like Strateas.Carlucci as the first Australian menswear label showing on schedule in Paris. That’s no mean task. Ellery continues to build in Paris. We have Dion Lee, Zimmerman and Rebecca Vallance showing at NYC Fashion Week. We have some really great brands that have built great sustainable businesses in Australia like Aje or Christopher Esber.

I’m also excited about the next generation like macgraw. It’s such a different world for them; easier and harder in very different ways. But seriously, I love our many, many brands and their unique offerings and beautiful pieces. They all have something distinctive that I think is worth promoting and developing from both a creative and/or business perspective.