First Nations fashion takes centre stage to celebrate this year’s NAIDOC Week, with designers communicating messages of support for Indigenous communities.
FIB acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the lands where we live, learn and work.
Each year in July, NAIDOC week celebrates the rich cultural history and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia. These celebrations are held across the continent and islands and provide a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities in support of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
The NAIDOC theme for 2021 is Heal Country and is a calling for us to continue to seek greater protections for the lands, waters, sacred sites and cultural heritage of First Nations peoples. This year, First Nations trends are taking a lean towards messages of empowerment and equality. Since January 26,
“there has never been a more important time to voice beliefs, showcase strength and honour identity through the clothes we wear.”
To celebrate NAIDOC week, here are FIB’s favourite First Nations labels to watch in 2021.
Clothing the Gaps
Clothing the Gaps is a fashion label determined to make a difference.
It’s not only a label, it’s a social enterprise that looks to improve Aboriginal Australian health outcomes and social justice. Situated in Melbourne’s trendy suburb of Brunswick, the store sports a massive flag on its south-facing wall which states “Free The Flag”. The label’s distinctive tees and beanies, emblazoned with slogans of Aboriginal empowerment can be frequently spotted on the streets this winter.
A not-for-profit charity is attached to the label, which dedicates itself to First Nations people and ambitiously aims to improve Aboriginal health. Head of Impact, Lena Charles, has worked with Clothing The Gaps since the brand’s establishment. She explains,
“We’ve got Clothing The Gaps as the fashion label, and all of the profits support the work that comes out of the foundation,”
Clothing The Gaps collaborates with Aboriginal designers on its ever-evolving range of streetwear. Bearing slogans such as “Always Was, Always Will Be” in traditional colours, the designs have been made popular by both First Nations and Non-Indigenous Australians.
“It’s really exciting when you walk down Sydney Road and see people in our shirts and stuff. We know Mob will buy our shirts but it’s really exciting when you see non-Aboriginal people support us as allies.”
Check out Clothing The Gaps here.
Gammin Threads is the brainchild and side-hustle of Yorta Yorta woman Tahnee Edwards. Her full-time gig sees her spending days helping Aboriginal families at an Aboriginal family violence prevention centre. Born out of her love of typography, language and “blak pride”, Edwards describes the Gammin Threads range as “deadly chillwear and accessories for people who believe in living colourful, paying respect and empowering women”.
The label is making waves across the industry with retro-kitsch slogan tees featuring phrases like “you lubly” and “big aunty energy”. Award-winning actor Miranda Tapsell is even wearing the popular “Young Aunty’s Club” tee.
Shop Gammin Threads here.
Rebecca Rickard is the founder of Deadly Denim. The designer is a Ballardong, Whadjuk woman from the Nyungar nation who lives and works in Perth, WA. Rickard’s denim jackets recently thrust her label to fame during this year’s New York Fashion Week, seen by millions online during the pandemic.
Rickard is one out of ten international designers chosen to showcase as a part NYFW in February. The designer’s 2021 Deadly Denim collection features designs from four Indigenous artists, shining a necessary light of diversity on the First Nations fashion world. As reported by SBS, Rickard said of her experience at NYFW, “Being the world’s oldest living culture, I get such goosebumps and pride from that.”
Check out this sustainable, upcycled label here.
Ella Noah Bancroft is the founder and director of YHI, a label that celebrates her Bundjalung history. Bancroft is also educating the masses via her academic and creative writing. She runs a not-for-profit event “The Returning” and supports an array of indigenous activism. Bancroft’s designs focus on indigenous and female empowerment.
YHI’s philosophy is stated on Bancroft’s website,
“Women are the backbone to our society, and healthy mothers who are healers create healthy communities of humans who care.”
Take a look at YHI’s designs here.
Ginny’s Girl Gang
This infant label is the creative endeavour of proud Gomaroi/Gamilaraay woman, Regina “Ginny” Orcher. She’s been operating Ginny’s Girl Gang for two years and works with a purely denim base. Her designs include messages such as “Queen Crowned in Curls” or “Royalty inside my DNA”. The designer also offers one-off pieces upon request.
“Ginny believes that everyone comes with a story so the best part of the creative process, is yarning, talking and coming up with something that reflects an individual and what they want to say.”
Ginny’s popularity is peaking during recent times.
Marlee Silva, co-founder of Aboriginal women’s empowerment platform, Tiddas 4 Tiddas, recently chose to commission a Ginny’s jacket. The denim piece promotes her groundbreaking social media platform.
You can shop Ginny’s Girl Gang here.
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