Are we really wearing micro shorts this season? The hot pants rebellion on social media | Australian fashion

In March, social media cracked as a community of women outraged by the threat of indecent exposure united in the comments section over a controversial clothing trend. The catalyst was an Instagram post from the US retailer Free People with the caption: “We are wearing micro shorts this season.”

The micro shorts in question are breathtakingly short – roughly the size of a pair of high-waisted boyleg underwear. Some commenters have described the denim styles as “janties”, while one wrote: “As a general rule, my inseam should be longer than my tampon string.”

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The fashion trend, which has long been a staple of Australian beach style, started in September last year when Emma Corrin wore a tiny pair of Miu Miu shorts over tights to the Venice film festival. But it has carried through the northern hemisphere’s autumn into spring with celebrities like Sydney Sweeney, Olivia Wilde and Kristen Stewart wearing them in recent weeks.

The styling of the trend is a mishmash. The shorts are worn with oversized shirts and blazers, with singlets and cardigans, and tall leather boots or chunky brogues. Their popularity seems driven by the classic shock value of underwear as outerwear; but the resistance to them appears to come from women who are tired of trends dictated by celebrities, and empowered enough to call out impractical or unflattering garments.

Local fashion industry ‘like the Titanic’

Jaana Quaintance-James, the chief executive of the Australian Fashion Council (AFC), says the local fashion industry “feels a little bit like we’ve been on the Titanic”. Quaintance-James, who was announced as the new head of the country’s peak fashion body in March, has expressed her desire to make the industry more sustainable and to save local garment manufacturing. “We all want to retain Australian manufacturing and we see the value in that, but we don’t necessarily have a clear strategy about how we do so.”

Later this month, the AFC and Epson Australia will release a report on the future of Victoria’s garment and footwear production sector, which is estimated to be valued at $960m.

Quaintance-James says the report will include recommendations for government policy and industry programs to support and grow Victorian manufacturing.

“There’s an opportunity for us to go further in terms of the credibility of our sector and recognizing that it is a powerhouse,” says Quaintance-James.

Kate Ceberano’s quilts on display

Quilts designed by Australian singer Kate Ceberano will be at the Australasian Quilt Convention in Melbourne in April 2024. Photograph: Ian Laidlaw

From basting to backing and everything in between, the long-running Australasian Quilt Convention returns this month at Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building from 11 to 14 April.

The highlight of the four-day event is the Australian Quilt Show, where the winner will be awarded $10,000. Also on display are select designs by singer Kate Ceberano, a quilting enthusiast whose creations are hand-stitched by a team of four women in the Philippines.

Quilts from this year’s QuiltCon in the USA – billed as the largest modern quilting event in the world – will be on presented alongside entries from the AQC quilting competition based on the theme “Oh my stars!”. Creative designs from finalists include Lichtenstein pop-art protagonists, a pair of oodles and Dame Edna.

Finalists in the 2024 AQC quilting challenge include (clockwise from top left) Oh My Stars! It’s Mischief and Mayhem by Mary Herbison, ‘Fantale’ Stars by Sue Broadway, Hello Possums! by Brenda Wood, and Oh My Stars… Cosmic Illusion! by Sheree Mackintosh. Composite: Supplied

The no-buy club, three months on

Could you commit to buying no new or second hand clothes for 75 days? This was the challenge that New York fashion writer Mandy Lee put to her social media followers in early January and the uptake has spread all the way to Australia.

Participants of the “75 hard style challenge” are encouraged to use their existing wardrobe, be creative with styling and document their outfits to learn more about the way they dress.

Lauren Payne (left) and Kelly Purvis during their 75-day no-buy challenge. Composite: Supplied

Kelly Purvis, founder of the label Little Party Dress, decided to participate to break her shopping addiction. “My wardrobe is full of clothes with the tags still on [which is] embarrassing to admit,” she says. “I was shopping online almost daily and knew I needed to do something about it.”

As part of the challenge, business owner Zara Duffer took items to her cobbler or tailor for repairs and alterations – something that was encouraged by Lee. “Since these items are still part of my wardrobe, it was a fun added layer of the challenge for me,” says Duffer.

For the writer Lauren Payne, the joy of the challenge was repeating her outfits and trying new combinations: “I realized most of my everyday looks consist of at least one black item, making it a core color for my own personal style … which has been enlightening.”