Whats new? The IFP Pathways Program, supported by David Jones, returns in 2023 with a new cohort of First Nations designers set for AAFW – AND – a newly launched ‘Track to Pathways’ program underway.


Indigenous Fashion Projects (IFP) and David Jones have announced the seven up-and-coming Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designers selected to participate in this year’s (2023) prestigious IFP Pathways Program.


IFP Pathways Program launched in 2020 to empower and facilitate the development of First Nations designers’ fashion labels through cross-cultural exchange with workshops, collaborations and mentorships between participants, industry experts and leading Australian designers behind renowned brands, including Esse Studios, Bassike, Jac & Jack, Bondi Born, Alemais, Blanca and Papinelle.


The program has played a long overdue role in paving the road for First Nations designers to be represented in the fashion industry at a national and international level, with opportunities to showcase their collections on the runway and industry events, including Afterpay Australian Fashion Week (AAFW) in Sydney.


Indigenous Fashion Projects Manager, Michelle Maynard, said the Pathways Program is an incredibly exciting platform providing opportunities for First Nations designers to develop their label, build capacity, and shape their identity and position in the industry.

“The expression of First Nations culture and storytelling through the medium of fashion and textiles is rich and vibrant. Our program is expanding diversity in the industry,” she said.

 “While the program provides important opportunities for First Nations designers, its impact on the industry is just as remarkable. There’s such great opportunity for the wider fashion industry to learn from Indigenous designers, our cultural ways of being and our relationship and responsibilities to Country. Our work is grounded in more than 60,000 years of heritage and our program provides a platform to engage in the sharing of it.  

“Our industry partners learn as much as they share. It’s a collaboration in building cultural understanding and deepening relationships, understanding and experience.”

David Jones General Manager of Womenswear, Footwear and Accessories, Bridget Veals, reaffirmed the department store’s commitment to the program.

“Promoting cultural appreciation and uplifting Indigenous designers on a global stage is at the heart of what motivates us at David Jones.

“Our continued support of the Indigenous Pathways Program demonstrates our commitment to First Nations designers and their diverse perspectives as we work towards a future where Indigenous design and culture is equally represented.” 

Introducing the IFP Pathways Program Designers of 2023:

  • GALI Swimwear – by Kamilaroi man, David Leslie

  • Gammin Threads – by Yorta Yorta and Taungurung woman, Tahnee Edwards

  • Ihraa Swim – by Bardi, Nyul Nyul and Nyikina woman, Nat Dann

  • JOSEPH & JAMES – by Gooreng Gooreng and South Sea Islander woman, Juanita Page

  • KAMARA Australia – by Gugu Badhun and Kutjala woman, Naomi Collings

  • Lazy Girl Lingerie – by Waayni woman, Cassandra Pons

  • Miimi & Jiinda – by Gumbaynggirr, Dunghutti and Bundjalung women, Melissa Greenwood and Lauren Jarrett

Juanita Page

David Leslie

Naomi Collings

Melissa Greenwood and Lauren Jarrett

Cassandra Pons

Tahnee Edwards

Nat Dann

2023 IFP Pathways Program participant, Gumbaynggirr, Dunghutti and Bundjalung woman and Miimi & Jiinda Founder Melissa Greenwood, said the program was a step towards enabling her brand to continue storytelling in a new way and with new audiences.  

“As an Aboriginal woman, storytelling has always played an important role for me, and generations before, to share and keep our culture and history alive,” said Mrs Greenwood.   

“After years storytelling through paint and canvas, I felt it was only natural to bring my stories to life in a new form by translating my artwork into fabrics for people to learn, enjoy and celebrate through fashion.   

“We feel fortunate to be part of this year’s IFP Pathways Program for the opportunity to learn from industry heavyweights and to share the beauty of our ancient culture with them.   

“We are also excited as a participant to be able to tap into a new network of deadly First Nation Designers and to follow along with the success of their fashion label.”  

Introducing Track to Pathways

Feeding the Pathways Program this year will be a new Track to Pathways program – a stepping stone to help budding creatives develop their businesses through a series of tailored workshops, industry mentorship and promotional opportunities.

Selected for the new program are Rebecca Rickard of Deadly Denim, Bobbi Lockyer of Gantharri, Cheryl Creed of Murrii Quu Couture and Grace Power of Message in a Bottle. More to come on these incredible designers soon – watch this space!

“We are contributing to building a fashion industry in Australia that embraces and nurtures diversity and celebrates the world’s oldest living cultures. We are embedding the grassroots of our Country and evolving the shape of the industry through our programs, and that’s really exciting,” said Ms Maynard.

See YOU at the Runway

The 2023 IFP Pathways Program participants’ first showcase will be presented at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week! Join us on Gadigal Land in Redfern, for the David Jones Indigenous Fashion Projects runway, presented by Afterpay, on May 17th, 8:00pm AEST.

Images courtesy of the designers: 1)JOSEPH & JAMES, Photo by Clint Peleso. 2) Ihraa Swim by Nat Dann, The Mermaid Queen Collection – Print & Photography by Bobbi Lockyer. 3) Gammin threads, Photographer Tatanja Ross. 4) Gali Swimwear, Ingrid Napangardi Williams Ngalyipi swim brief, Model Lucas Schober, Photographer Anthony Kalajzich, Creative Rhys Ripper. 5) Miimi & Jiinda, Melissa Greenwood and Lauren Jarrett, photographer Milina Opsenica. 6) Lazy Girl Lingerie, ETHEREAL Editorial, Photo by Daphne Sky Studios.  7) KAMARA Australia, Adore one piece, Model Raven Tuala, Photo by Kristy Donnelly.

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