How much does it cost to have a runway show?

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“The model is one of the main costs. Then there are sets where you can pay to put up a carousel like last year’s Romance Was Born or be like Jordan Gogos and use papier-mâché.”

Even with cutting arts and crafts costs, Karamian recommends potential clients start with a budget of at least $40,000 to put on a runway show.

“If you perform on the spot at Carriageworks, you can earn a minimum of $40,000,” says Karamian. “It was with a cast of 15 models, no sets or photographers. That can go as high as $500,000, which is generally for off-set shows.”

Some of Karamian’s most memorable performances were Bella Hadid’s performance for Misha Collective in 2016, Carla Zampatti’s 50th anniversary performance at the Sydney Opera House in 2015 and Aje’s takeover of artist Wendy Whiteley park in Lavender Bay in 2018.

“There was all the attention that runway shows received but the people who were there left because they experienced something you don’t get from a digital presentation.”

With some fashion shoppers, including Net-a-Porter, preferring to watch the show digitally instead of catching a plane for the week at Redfern at Carriageworks, and a representative from department store Myer saying the event isn’t a priority on their calendar, some industry figures are suggesting designers. save $40,000, or more, for a different experience.


“COVID-19 has made us all realize that there are other ways to do business with people on the other side of the world,” said fashion consultant David Bush, former general manager of fashion at David Jones.

“I don’t understand the purpose anymore, unless you produce content and pay influencers to attend. This is an influencer event.”

Last year Rebecca Vallance celebrated the 10th anniversary of her business with a show at AAFW but missed this year’s schedule, to focus her resources on other events.

“We are opening up stores openly, including our new flagship Chadstone store,” said Vallance. “Internationally we have an event that I follow after Chadstone in New York. The US is now a big part of our business.”

Designer Rebecca Vallance walks the runway during her show at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2021 Resort' 22 Collections at Carriageworks on May 31, 2021.

Designer Rebecca Vallance walks the runway during her show at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2021 Resort’ 22 Collections at Carriageworks on May 31, 2021. Credit:Getty

Vallance was pleased with last year’s show as a celebration of a business milestone but doesn’t see the show at AAFW as an exercise for international sales.

“They’ve been our customers and have been for a long time,” he says of buyers. “It’s good to see them in town, but it’s not a tool we use to drive business.”

It’s a different story for Higgins, who has a thriving international clientele and niche stockist but still nurtured his label through its infancy. Watching her baby take her first steps, barefoot, down the runway, would be an old dream come true.


“I remember watching Channel 10 news in 2004, when I was 10 years old, and they were talking about the glitz of Paris Fashion Week. The pictures are from John Galliano’s Egyptian collection for Dior. Saw those pictures from the show. Well, that’s for me.”

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