The National indigenous fashion awards 2023 Winners Have Been Announced!

Proudly presented by Indigenous Fashion Projects, meet the winners of the National Indigenous Fashion Awards (NIFA) 2023!

The NIFA 2023 ceremony took place this Wednesday evening, 9 August, under the stars on Larrakia Country at the Deckchair Cinema in Darwin. The sold out event was hosted by Rachael Hocking, with special guests, the Honourable Chansey Paech and a Welcome to Country from Aunty Bilawara Lee. 

We were once again thrilled to come together as a community and celebrate the excellence and innovation of Australia’s First Nations peoples in fashion and textiles.

A big thank you to all who attended, supported and helped make the night possible! Thank you to our event sponsor and award partner the Northern Territory Government, and to each of our other award partners: Canberra Centre, Robina Town Centre, RMIT, Country Road, and Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation. Thank you to marie claire, Darwin Festival, QIC, and to our panel of esteemed judges: Perina Drummond at Jira Models, Yatu Widders-Hunt at Cox Inall Ridgeway and the Australian Fashion Council, artist Lisa Waup, and Nimmi Premarratne at Country Road.

A special thank you to our Principal Media partner NITV (National Indigenous Television), who will broadcast the NIFA nationally on Friday 18 August at 9.15pm. Following this, the event will join previous years’ broadcasts on the SBS On Demand, available to stream for free.

Lastly, a very special mention and congratulations to each of this year’s outstanding 66 shortlisted nominees.

And the Winners are:

  • Gapuwiyak Culture & Arts artists, Traditional Adornment Award, supported by the Northern Territory Government
  • Gapuwiyak Culture & Arts X Aly de Groot, Community Collaboration Award, supported by Canberra Centre
  • Rowena Morgan, Nagula Jarndu, Textile Design Award, supported by RMIT
  • Rhonda Sharpe, Yarrenyty Arltere Artists, Wearable Art Award, supported by Robina Town Centre
  • Lillardia Briggs-Houston, Fashion Designer Award, supported by Country Road
  • Ikuntji Artists, Business Achievement Award, supported by Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation

Meet the Award Winners 


Gapuwiyak Culture & Arts artists

Recipient of the Traditional Adornment Award, supported by Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation

The Award

For tens of thousands of years First Nations Peoples from around the continent have celebrated their cultures through traditional dress. This award shines a spotlight on the design of items that are created and worn to define or express culture, encouraging the creation and acknowledgement of traditional cultural regalia. Supported by the Northern Territory Government, Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts will recieve a cultural exchange opportunity of their design and choosing, to the value of $2500!

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Encouraging the creation of traditional cultural regalia, the Traditional Adornment Award considers the quality of construction, expression of living culture and preservation of Indigenous culture.

Master weavers from Gapuwiyak Culture & Arts were selected for a collection of refashioned, upcycled silk, linen and cotton garments that found their roots in the 1930s. Inspired by the first Yolngu fashion depicted in Donald Thompson’s recent repatriated 1930s photographs, the artists revived traditional practices depicted in the photos and timelessly integrated these as contemporary fashion to produce pieces featuring colours from Country, including from berries, roots and leaves traditionally used to colour the fibre art that Yolngu artists are renowned for.

Gapuwiyak Culture & Arts X Aly de Groot

Recipient of the Community Collaboration Award, supported by Canberra Centre

The Award

This award recognises strong, two-way relationships between First Nations communities and the textile and fashion industry, where social and economic benefits flow to communities, and where First Nations peoples’ agency in the collaboration process is front and centre. Gapuwiyak Culture & Arts and collaborator Aly De Groot, will recieve a $10,000 cash prize to be split between each collaborator supported by Canberra Centre.

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As part of the collection that secured Gapuwiyak Culture & Arts the Traditional Adornment Award, judges also recognised the artists for their collaboration with Darwin artist and designer Aly de Groot. Working with Aly, the artists took the inspiration from the Donald Thompson photographs into a collaborative workshop to finalise 10 looks that were presented to resounding applause at Country to Couture and Melbourne Fashion Week last year. Bringing designers young and old together, the collection celebrated collaboration and drove economic benefit for the artists’ community.

Rowena Morgan, Nagula Jarndu

Recipient of the Textile Design Award, supported by RMIT

The Award

Indigenous textile design holds deep meaning and continues to push the boundaries of contemporary First Nations cultures. It is a medium that offers freedom, where the use of the vibrant colours in textile design is represented in new expressions of old stories, which enable artists to stretch their imagination. In recognition of Rowena’s masterful textile work and powerful storytelling, she will receive customised Textile Design Professional Development undertaken with globally recognised RMIT School of Fashion and Textiles, ranked among the Business of Fashion’s The Best Fashion Schools in the World. 

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For the past 15 years Rowena has been producing hand printed textiles that tell the stories of her Kija ancestry and reflect her connection to Country – specifically the Landsdowne Ranges in East Kimberley.

Consulting with her Elders to ensure her work is always culturally accurate, Rowena reflects the ochre, pindan earth, rocky riverbeds and plant and animal life of the Country in her work.

In recent years she has diversified from traditional lino blocks, now incorporating recycled Styrofoam boxes to create printing blocks, carving and burning into the Styrofoam to add linework and texture to her work.

Rhonda Sharpe, Yarrenyty Arltere Artists

Recipient of the Wearable Art Award, supported by Robina Town Centre

The Award

The Wearable Art Award celebrates design, artistry, construction, wearability and cultural expression. In recognition of Rhonda’s work, the artist will receive $5000 cash prize from Robina Town Centre.

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Recognising a designer for the creation of a single item that demonstrates excellence in design, craft, cultural and artistic expression, Yarrenyty Arltere Artists’ Rhonda Sharpe was selected for her large and abundant dillybag inspired by her great grandmother Old Laddie. Harnessing age-old techniques, Rhonda turned to bush dyed blanket and sheepskin from a discarded artwork to create her piece, with the dillybag’s handle crafted from bush dyed silk stitched with cotton. Stunning emu feathers were shared by another artist who hunted them on Country – just like Old Laddie would generously share the food she would collect in her own dillybag.


Lillardia Briggs-Houston

Recipient of the Fashion Designer Award, supported by Country Road

The Award

Since 2020, Country Road has been the proud presenter of the NIFA Fashion Designer Award. The award recognises Lillardia as a designer who has excelled both creatively and commercially. Lillardia will receive a 12-month business mentorship with Country Road, an iconic Australian fashion lifestyle brand. It is designed to be a rich two-way learning experience for both the winner and the Country Road mentorship team. The program is tailored to the needs and focus areas defined by the mentee, covering areas such as marketing, product development, sales and finance and sustainability, supporting the winner to further build their business and career. The mentorship can be delivered in person and online, with Country Road supporting travel expenses up to $5,000.

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Lillardia has built her label from a small rural community in south-west NSW since 2019 where she works exclusively on Country. Studying fashion at TAFE she was taught by her trained Wiradjuri grandmother from a young age and carries out all of her own pattern drafting, grading, sampling and textile production. She was a nominee for the inaugural 2021 ‘Indigenous designer of the year’ at the Australian Fashion Laureate, dual nominee at the National Indigenous Fashion Awards for three consecutive years and in 2022 won the ‘Wearable art’ category. With her win, Lillardia accesses a 12-month business mentorship with Country Road.



Ikuntji Artists

Recipient of the Business Achievement Award, supported by Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation

The Award

The Business Achievement Award recognises Ikuntji Artists’ leadership as an Art Centre showing both creative and commercial success in textiles and fashion, and positively impacting the Indigenous fashion sector. Ikuntji Artists will receive a $3000 cash prize and a customised business mentoring development. The mentoring will be designed and developed in support of the winner’s business goals, and aims to enrich entrepreneurship and support fashion innovation.

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Celebrating the commercial and creative success in textiles and fashion, this year’s Business Achievement Award goes to Ikuntji Artists, who are amongst the first Art Centres in the Western Desert to release its own textile collection, which now adorn various fashion and garment ranges, accessories and textiles. Through continued strategic collaborations, partnerships and projects, Ikuntji designs have been featured on the cover of Vogue and at London Pacific Fashion Week, with the artists releasing their own book Ikuntji Textiles. Telling stories in bright colours and forms, building layers, purposeful brushstrokes and mazes of linework, Ikuntji artists celebrate ceremony, country and culture in their designs and have amassed fans around the world.


Congratulations to all of our nominees and of course to the winners. It’s no secret that we have got some talented people out there doing amazing things.

Thank you to all our partners and we look forward to sharing more from Indigenous Fashion Projects soon!