5 First Nations Designers to catch at David Jones this month

Fashionistas rejoice! Darwin Aboriginal Art Foundation (DAAFF)’s Indigenous Fashion Projects (IFP) has teamed up with David Jones to present the inaugural Pathways Program Pop Up. This Capsule Collection of incredible First Nations fashion is exclusive to the iconic Aussie department store.

Words by Camilla Wagstaff.

Photos by Jess James for David Jones, featuring Guyala Bayles and Charlotte Wighton.

“The First Nations Capsule Collection will feature a 66-piece curation from the designs shown on the runway at the Indigenous Fashion Projects (IFP) runway, presented by David Jones at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, which showcased the First Nations designers for the first time,” says David Jones General Manager of Womenswear, Footwear and Accessories, Bridget Veals

The Pop Up is an evolution of the Pathways Program, an ongoing fashion label development initiative that pairs emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designers with those from some of Australia’s most established fashion brands (think Bianca Spender, Aje and Bec + Bridge, to name a few).

“This in-store presence will allow customers to try on, touch and feel our garments that have been so beautifully made right here in Sydney,” says Yuwaalaraay designer and Maara Collective Founder Julie Shaw

Shoppers can discover the latest collections from five up and coming First Nations designers, using their consumer power to create a more inclusive and representative fashion industry for Australia. This is innovative, contemporary style guided by our oldest living cultures.

The collection is available in store at David Jones Pacific Fair in Queensland and online from 25 October. 

Ngali by Denni Francisco

Sleek, classic shapes balanced by bold prints, Ngali is redefining the wardrobe staple. This label puts the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists centre stage, through unique print adaptations that are a considered celebration of culture and Country.

Ngali’s latest collection Mingaan honours Founder Denni Francisco’s elder sister “and the great love she brings to our extended family,” she says. “The reversible garments show that there is more than one way to see things, and in families this helps us to be open minded and allow space to see something from a different perspective.” Expect easy-wear dress, pleated skirts, matching shirts, and gorgeously tailored pants.

Pathways mentors: Mary Lou Ryan and Deborah Sams of Bassike.

Bridget says: The go to brand for a unique but easy-to-wear print. The silk scarves make for the perfect Christmas gift for the person who has everything. 

Maara Collective by Julie Shaw

Headed up by Yuwaalaraay creative director Julie Shaw, Maara Collective’s luxurious resort wear is informed by a deep connection to kinship, community and collaboration. The brand honours the many hands involved in the creative processes, with “maara” literally translating to “hands” in the Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay language groups.

The Resort 2022 feature print Tjukula is a stunning representation of Pitjantjatjara artist Lexie Michael’s mother’s and grandfather’s Country in the APY Lands of central Australia.  It adds elegance and opulence to summer staples like flowing dresses, silk tops, tailored shorts and swimwear. 

Pathways mentor: Charlotte Hicks of Esse Studios and Kit Willow of KitX.

Bridget says: With simple lines and natural fabrications, this brand is the ultimate modern update to any summer wardrobe. On my wish list is the linen wide leg pant with braided belt in Opal Blue!

Liandra Swim by Liandra Gaykamangu

 

Liandra Gaykamangu’s swimwear lines masterfully blend ancient traditions with a fresh, innovative edge. “Our dream is to give you the opportunity to exhibit a slice of culture that’s been tens-of-thousands of years in the making,” says Liandra of her Liandra Swim vision. 

The 2021/22 Community Collection balances references to Indigenous dot painting traditions with of-the-moment swim silhouettes, for a contemporary collection rooted in culture. Bikinis are sold separately, allowing shoppers to mix and match styles, prints and sizes.

Pathways mentor: Bianca Spender

Bridget says: Liandra Swim is a sophisticated swimwear range that offers shapes to cater to all body types. Liandra’s strong connection to her land is evident in the beautiful prints and earthy tones.

Native Swimwear by Natalie Cunningham

 

 

Birpi and Ngarabal woman Natalie Cunningham works directly with Aboriginal artists and Art Centres to create extraordinary swimwear designs that celebrate the richness and diversity for First Nations cultures. Leading the way in sustainability and fair trade, exclusive licenses to original artwork ensure that artists and their communities benefit from sales.

Native Swimwear’s Spring Summer 2022 collection features gorgeous original prints with blocks of fuchsia, violet and cobalt blue, for swimwear doubling as ready-to-wear that truly makes a splash. 

Pathways mentors: Becky Cooper and Bridget Yorston of Bec + Bridge.

Bridget says: The colour and vibrancy of Native Swimwear’s prints make this brand a standout in our swimwear assortment. The Native Flower print is spot on with the trend for pinks this summer.

Kirrikin by Amanda Healy

Kirrikin’s ground-breaking luxury resort wear spotlights the work of contemporary Indigenous artists from around the country, digitally printed onto sustainable fabrics to create ethical, unique garments.

The 2021/22 Pilbara Collection tells stories of abundance in the apparently hostile environment of the Pilbara region in remote northwest of Western Australia. “The colours and sheer joy of being on Country are apparent – we are the essence of Australia,” says Amanda. Look for flowing pieces in easy-care fabrics, designed to keep you looking and feeling cool all summer long.

Pathways mentors: Adrian Norris and Edwina Forest of Aje.

Bridget says: Kirrikin’s silk pieces create a beautiful capsule offering elegance and quality. The Katie Long Robe is a great versatile option for Summer to pair with a dress or jeans and a tee.  

Thanks for reading!

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