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These charts show exactly how ASOS, H&M, Zara and Uniqlo are affecting Australian fashion chains

Has there ever been so collective a squeal as that which was elicited by the announcement of Zara's arrival in Australia? Finally, Aussie shoppers sighed, no more overstuffed baggage on flights home from Europe, no more being behind the ball on fast fashion. And even by the time Zara was already in Sydney, Adelaideans hyped up Zara's impending opening at Burnside Village as if it were the only fast fashion store in the city.

Fast-forward to this month, which saw H&M land in Melbourne to perhaps even more hype, while Uniqlo has been quietly unrolling its Australian expansion for more than a year. Between the three new arrivals and Topshop, which was the first to dip its toes in the Australian market back in 2009, there are few global fashion giants left that haven't taken a bite of the nation's style-conscious culture.

An image from the ASOS summer 2013 campaign, the online retailer's first exclusive collection for the Australian market.

An image from the ASOS summer 2013 campaign, the online retailer's first exclusive collection for the Australian market.

Since introducing free shipping in 2011 and opening an office in Sydney in 2012, ASOS no longer elicits "a-what?" in even the stylishly disconnected households. Even Urban Outfitters, General Pants Co's American doppelgänger, now promotes its shipping to Australia. J. Crew and Forever 21 are perhaps the only major players that don't actively market to Australia - although it could be argued that for the latter retailer, Australia isn't quite the right fit for them. (Forever 21 occupies a space that's already claimed by the Cotton On group, with its extremely low-priced brands Cotton On, Factorie, and the recently acquired Supre.) 

Of course, something's got to give.

As a whole, the Australian women's fashion industry is estimated to have shrunk about $5 billion over the past five years. That's a shrinkage of 2.5% over a period of time when the economy actually grew nearly 15%. Smiggle and Peter Alexander are the only consistently profitable pillars left holding up Just Group, which owns Just Jeans, Dotti, Portmans, Jay Jays and Jacqui-E. Last financial year, ARJ Group, which owns Sportsgirl, Sussan and Suzanne Grae, saw revenue fall more than 10% on the previous year. (I couldn't locate information on Forever New's revenues or profits, but if you have any information on the company, I invite you to share in the comments.)

Meanwhile, Zara is seeing profit margins down under well above its global average, at 67%, and is about to open its ninth store in the nation.

Now, I'm no financial analyst, and I certainly don't have access to any more financial information on the Australian fashion industry than anybody else. But these charts speak more than my personal speculation ever could on the impact that the globalisation of fashion is having in Australia. The lines represent exactly what Australian consumers are Googling and when. See those spikes for Uniqlo and H&M? That's around the same times their storefronts arrived in Melbourne. The same goes for Zara and its opening in 2011. (If you're on mobile, you may find it easier to view by clicking here and here.)

With the exception of Country Road, every Australian chain on these charts has seen a gradual decline in consumer interest since 2011. Meanwhile, every international retailer bar Topshop has sky-rocketed.

Will these trends continue this way? One can only surmise that without strategised diversification - a la Cotton On Group and its foray into homewares - there's a miserable future for Australian fast fashion chains. 

Lauren Nevada sheer top | Amy J Metals cuff

I think eyebrows are my favourite facial feature because of their egalitarian nature. Unlike the cheekbones, which all the contouring in a Kardashian episode cannot drastically change, or the lips, to which many a girl confesses to boosting with horrid injections, the eyebrow puts almost everyone on the same playing field. Here, with the stroke of a pencil and a swipe of gel, we can choose our own adventure, no matter what fate has bestowed upon our features.

And my friend Krystabell has chosen a very lovely brow adventure indeed. They're quite a set on her - although of course, she's blessed everywhere else too. I played with a few images from a leisurely stroll the other day - find some more on her blog. Clothing courtesy of Goldyn (probably Denver's best boutique).

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lauren nevada sheer top
goldyn denver clothes
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J. Crew perfect pencil skirt in nude wool

For the first 22 years of my life, I've mistakenly believed pencil skirts belonged in the realm of legal offices and awkwardly styled fashion editorials in publications aimed at middle-aged women.

Not so. Acquainted with leather and roughed up on the streets, this J. Crew version is sure to be seen again and again. It's called the 'perfect pencil skirt' for a reason.

And roughed up could well be, for I'm about to get my motorcycle licence. Years of putting up with dramatic mechanical tantrums from old four-doors has worn my patience through. I'm ready to ride. Any recommendations for a motorcycle riding course in the fine city of Denver would be much appreciated! Or any advice about riding in general. (Of course, I would never ride without full protective gear - I'll even bring back bright orange safety vests. Just following Karl Lagerfeld's advice, natch.)

Chanelle x

J Crew perfect pencil skirt in dusty blossom | One Teaspoon leather jacket | Ksubi sunglasses (gift from General Pants)

J Crew perfect pencil skirt in dusty blossom | One Teaspoon leather jacket | Ksubi sunglasses (gift from General Pants)

Sportmax stripey top

Sportmax stripey top

Sportmax stripey top

Sportmax stripey top

Dress Collection 9

18th Amendment Colbert flared jeans | Sportmax boatneck top

When an easy day is invaded by a tornado of tasks, and you need to slip on a semblance of decency and get out of the house, jeans and stripes keep it classy. 

(It's a real shame 18th Amendment seems to have disappeared into the abyss, since their flares had such brilliant fits. Does anybody know what happened to the brand? It no longer has a website or any active social media channels.)

Chanelle x

Vintage clip-on earrings

Vintage clip-on earrings

Sportmax boatneck top | 18th Amendment Colbert flared jeans | Zara bag | ASOS shoes

Sportmax boatneck top | 18th Amendment Colbert flared jeans | Zara bag | ASOS shoes

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