Political fashion – some might say it’s an oxymoron. But late last year a group of Parliamentarians got together and decided that we needed to do more to support the local fashion industry, and so Parliamentary Friends of Aussie Fashion was born. A challenge was put out to all MPs and Senators to wear locally designed and made clothes for an entire sitting week.
Thankfully for me the sitting week chosen coincided with fete season here in Canberra, and I discovered some wonderful local fashion from Rockstars and Royalty, Zilpah Tart, Adelina La Vita and others at school fetes, as well as at the Handmade Canberra store.
The challenge was a little more difficult for my male colleagues, but many succeeded wearing locally designed and made ties and suits for the whole week. Many also dutifully took off their shoes to prove they were Australian made when questioned.
The challenge was a huge success, gaining national media attention and much-needed promotion for many local designers. Not since Paul Keating’s Zegna suits has there been this much focus on pollies’ attire!
At the heart of the week-long challenge was a message I try to live by everyday: shop local. Whether it be my campaign t-shirts, annual Christmas card or electorate wide mail-outs, I take every opportunity to buy Australian made and to use local printers and manufacturers.
And I do so understanding that at times this means I pay more. But in my opinion, this is a small price to pay to know that my patronage is helping keep jobs in the region.
I know that there are many Canberrans who feel the same way that I do and are happy to pay a little extra to support the local economy. After all, we Canberrans are incredibly proud of our city and of the immense talent we have here.
In the face of the growing trend for online shopping, campaigns to promote shopping locally and shopping small are taking off, not just in Parliament but across the country. Canberra businesses should capitalise on this sentiment and embrace their inner ‘Canberraness.’
While the rest of Australia may think of Canberra as a ‘Government theme park’ the fact is we have a thriving private sector across a broad range of industries – from fashion, to technology, to agriculture. Let’s promote our products as made, designed, produced or grown in Canberra and let’s encourage our community to shop local.
For information: Gai Brodtmann MP Federal Member for Canberra Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Defence