Spring Racing Trends in Australia

What were the biggest trends of 2019's Australian spring racing season? In this report, discover the top occasionwear categories, styles and colours seen at race days and in retail.

Written by Atiqah KamarudinNovember 7, 2019


The Australian spring racing season is known to be a huge part of the nation’s culture and tradition and a main event in the fashion calendar. The races have long acted as a platform for racegoers to showcase their impeccable style and finery, making it a huge opportunity for brands to tap into.

Despite Melbourne Cup 2019 hitting a 24-year low in attendance following the public protests and backlash towards horse racing industry, the event continues to be a key date for fashion in the region.

In this report, we reviewed a total of 12 Australian apparel and accessory brands retailing at David Jones, Myer and The Iconic, to analyse the key head-to-toe looks offered in the Spring 2019 race season. More than 3,000 data points were screened from August to October 2019 on popular clothing items for racewear – Dresses, Jumpsuits and Suits as well as Headwear.

The apparel brands used in the analysis were Alice McCall, Sass & Bide, Thurley, Lover, By Johnny., Bec & Bridge and Shona Joy while Morgan Taylor, Max Alexander, Gregory Ladner, Olga Berg and Ford Millinery were analysed for their Headwear.



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Key Apparel Categories

Dresses are consistently the most popular choice for the races. According to the Spring new arrivals (Chart 1), the category continued to be the key volume driver, accounting for almost half of the brands’ newness during the period. Feminine midi dresses contributed to almost half of new-in dresses, followed by mini and maxi dresses.

Although Jumpsuits and Suits’ contributions were relatively minimal compared to Dresses, these two categories have proved to be the next popular options after dresses, just like at Royal Ascot.


Brand Contribution

Overall, some brands had the competitive advantage of dominating a high contribution in all three categories in newness, such as Alice McCall and Shona Joy.

However, for the key racewear staple, Dresses, Bec & Bridge held the biggest contribution during the season with 24%. It offered various styles of dresses from satin slip dresses to midi floral dresses.

Meanwhile, Alice McCall had the biggest offering for Jumpsuits and Suits, which mainly came in floral motif.



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New-In Styles: Dresses & Jumpsuits

Overall, the silhouette for dresses and jumpsuits this year was more feminine and ladylike. The key styles spotted among the brands in focus included:


Bold Florals

Although florals are a given for spring, the romantic print accounted for 20% of the brands’ newness, signifying its continued popularity. With ‘feminine and floral’ being the official dress code for one of the major races, Oaks Day, coupled with the versatility of this print, it is no doubt that florals will be a popular choice for Spring Racing.



Alice McCall, Thurley and Lover were among the advocates of this trend. Intricate lace contributed at least 10% of the season’s newness, which was mostly used in a full head-to-toe ensemble. This style was also popularised by Kate Middleton as she repeatedly wore a full lace dress at Royal Ascot.


Puffy Sleeves

Puffed-sleeve tops and dresses reigned supreme on the Fall/Winter 2019 and Spring/Summer 2020 catwalks. This voluminous sleeve trend was also a major offering among the Australian brands this season, as it was not only on dresses but also on jumpsuits. Alice McCall, Shona Joy and Bec & Bridge were among the brands popularising this style.



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New-In Styles: Suits

Some of the major Suit trends included:


Check Print

Although classic solid blazers held a higher contribution in the overall jacket category, check printed blazers were also common in this season’s newness as seen at Bec & Bridge and By Johnny. The print, which was more synonymous in the Fall/Winter season proved to be as popular in spring.


Double-Breasted Blazers

The ‘80s power suit silhouette appeared in the form of double-breasted blazers – boxy yet tailored and sleek. Shona Joy was one of the brands advocating this style best, mostly in tonal looks. Strong or sculptured shoulders were prevalent too, giving a more structured look to the whole ensemble.


Wide-Leg Pants

Another fall trend, the wide-leg trouser, which made a huge comeback on the Fall/Winter 2019 runways also reappeared in this season’s newness. Accounting for more than 20% of the pants’ newness, this style also extended to the groovy ’70s bell-bottoms, but in a more polished style.



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Colour Performance Analysis

Core Colours

The core colours – black, white, brown and grey – accounted for nearly 60% of the brands’ total assortment, newness and sell-out during the period. Black and white alone contributed around 40% of the new arrivals, giving plenty of options for consumers for Derby Day, as it is widely known for its strict black and white dress code. However, black was more popular as it showed signs of missed opportunity as opposed to white, which showed signs of overstocking with 3 percentage point variance against sell-out (Chart 3).

While nude colour was popular following the neutral, tonal trend from the Spring/Summer 2019 runways, it was not the case for racewear, as it showed signs of overstocking with 4 percentage point variance against sell-out.


Fashion Colours

Pink and blue were the top two prominent fashion colours, as they were the only fashion colours appearing in the top 5. Based on Chart 4, pastel colours reigned supreme for blue, following Kate Middleton’s periwinkle blue number by Elie Saab at Royal Ascot 2019. Meanwhile, the shades of pink were more playful, as both bright and pastel hues were equally well received. Bright pink shades were popular especially at Melbourne Cup and Stakes Day.

Interestingly, red showed signs of missed opportunity with 4 percentage point variance against sell-out.



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Meet the Author

Atiqah Kamarudin

Nur Atiqah Kamarudin is a Senior Business Intelligence Analyst at Omnilytics. With past experience at Nielsen and Euromonitor, she has spent years analysing data and unearthing insights to help brands and retailers make informed decisions. She currently produces reports on the fashion industry and its changing retail scene across the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Southeast Asia.

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