National Designer Award


Apply now



The Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival is proud to provide an esteemed platform to showcase and celebrate Australia’s most talented emerging fashion designers.

The Festival’s National Designer Award presented by David Jones encourages excellence within the Australian fashion industry, acknowledging designers in their first five years of business who excel in creative design, fashion innovation, high quality manufacturing standards, unique style and the potential to contribute to the future growth of Australian fashion.

Designers apply through an online folio submission process and the Award is judged by a panel of industry experts in two rounds. The first via an online folio review to form a shortlist of finalists. All finalists then present in person to the judging panel. This involves an in-person collection showcase and an interview with the judging panel; this final round determines the winner of the Award and the recipient of the Honourable Mention for Sustainability.


The Prize

The Award winner will receive a high value business development prize pack designed to acknowledge the designers significant contribution to the Australian fashion industry, reward them for their creativity and excellence in design, and importantly provide resources to assist the label’s development into the future.


Prizes include:

  • Cash bursary
  • International Airfares
  • Business advisory services
  • David Jones will showcase key pieces from the Award winner in a window of the flagship store in Bourke Street for the duration of the Festival
  • David Jones will collaborate with the Award winner on the opportunity to create a capsule collection for inclusion in David Jones ranging within a year of winning the Award.

The total prize for the Award winner is worth in excess of AUD $100,000*

*Full prize list will be available at time of Finalist announcement.


Honourable Mention For Sustainability:

The participant who receives the Honourable Mention for Sustainability will have the opportunity to complete a mentorship program led by the Sustainability team at David Jones. The recipient will have the opportunity to co-create a bespoke mentorship program that covers both sustainability and the recipient’s broader business goals.


Application Requirements

Applicants are required to submit a folio of work to be reviewed by the judging panel. The folio must be submitted in soft copy via upload in the Application Form, and include the following elements:

  • Application form
  • Photographic imagery of the collection that will be available at retail in March 2020 (minimum six looks). Sketches or other supporting creative materials may also be provided.
  • Photographic imagery of previous collection/s (minimum one previous collection). Sketches or other supporting creative materials may also be provided.
  • A business plan outlining core business goals, objectives and plans to attain these, along with background on the business.
  • Current profile, biography and head shot of designer/s (for potential publicity use).
  • A 200-400 word design statement detailing the creative rationale of the current collection.
  • Designers will receive further acknowledgment for demonstrating a commitment to sustainability through their product and general business practice, to be celebrated with the presentation of the Honourable Mention for Sustainability and will be confirmed at the Award Announcement event.


Application Criteria

The National Designer Award presented by David Jones is open to fashion designers and fashion design partnerships where the main place of business is based in Australia. The applying business should be under 5 years of establishment, having launched its first part or full range collection after 1st January 2015.

Applicants will be judged on the extent to which they meet the following criteria:

  • The label demonstrates excellence in design and fashion innovation.
  • The label demonstrates a unique design vision.
  • The collections are produced with a high-quality level of manufacture and attention to detail.
  • The label has been established for less than five years.
  • The label has been available at retail for at least 12 months.
  • The collections are available for commercial sale in Australia.
  • The business is financially sustainable.
  • The label demonstrates the potential to make a positive contribution to the future growth of the Australian fashion industry.
  • The label does not have an existing retail relationship (commercial/ stockist/trading) with any Australian department store.
  • The application complies with the Application Process detailed in this information pack.


Applicants are welcome to demonstrate how they are committed to incorporating sustainable elements of practice in the production and distribution of their collections, as part of their submission.


Notification and Finalist Requirements

All applicants will be notified by email of the outcome of their application.

Successful Finalists will be provided with information to prepare for Final Round Judging.

Once notified, all successful Finalists will be required to work with the Festival and their appointed production and PR agencies to prepare:

  • In-person Round 2 Judging presentation.
  • Media and PR opportunity fulfilment.
  • Announcement Event runway presentation.


Conditions of Participation

All finalists will be required to present in person to the judging panel at final round judging in Melbourne. Finalists located outside of the judging location will be provided with economy interstate return flights to attend the judging. The winner announcement event will include a live runway presentation of Finalist’s collections. All Finalists must be in attendance. Finalists located outside of the event location in Melbourne will be furnished with economy interstate return flights to attend the event. Any application or acceptance to be a part of the Festival’s National Designer Award is at the sole responsibility of the applicant and the Melbourne Fashion Festival Ltd. Will be indemnified of any risk or claims. The judging panel’s selection decisions are confidential and final and no correspondence will be entered into. The Festival will not provide critical feedback or analysis of applications. The freight, insurance and customs charges related to presenting the Finalists’ collections at judging and event activities is at the Designers’ cost and liability. The Festival and its appointed production agency takes all care but no responsibility for damage or loss incurred through participation in these activities.


Key dates

27th November 2019 – Applications close 

Submit your application here

[gravityform id="1" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]