National Indigenous Fashion Awards

On the day following the parades, the National Indigenous Fashion Awards took place in beautiful open air. The ceremony was also a very moving one, as we celebrated 66 First Nations designers, artists, and collaborators.

Nearly all of the winners spoke about the living and ongoing cultural traditions that inspire their work. They were primarily women who worked with Elders and learned from them.

A representative of Ikuntji Artists said, “All these old ladies are gone but they still hold us up.” Their spirit is strong and walks alongside us. We appreciate you loving our stories and designs because we know that they are still with us.

Ikuntji Artists has won the Business Achievement Award at the 2023 National Indigenous Fashion Awards. AAP Image/Esther Linder

Lillardia Brgs-Houston is the fashion designer of the Year. She is a Wiradjuri woman, Gangulu, and Yorta Yorta.

First Nations fashion designers continue the tradition of unbroken practice through textiles and art. The use of shells, stones, and stones in the creation of beautiful headpieces and jewelry was evident.

Economic sustainability and cultural sustainability

The fashion industry has provided many winners with economic opportunities. Fashion and textiles sales support the “money business,”” allowing designers and makers to continue practicing culture and remain in the Country while bringing their work to audiences throughout Australia.

Cultural sustainability is a key factor in economic opportunities. Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts and Aly De Groot were awarded both the community collaboration and traditional adornment awards for recreating fiber work from an ethnological photograph. The 19th-century women’s work and the way they posed looked similar to models on a catwalk.

Lillardia Brgs-Houston won the fashion designer award. AAP Image/Esther Linder

Briggs Houston emphasized the need for creative and fashion training in the Country. Briggs-Houston noted that fashion work such as pattern cutting, design alterations, sewing, and embellishment was traditionally done by women at home. However, no one considered themselves to be a designer or brand ambassador.

Briggs-Houston, who studied fashion at TAFE, also learned from her grandmother.

Back then, we were always seamstresses but never designers. Now, I devote my life to cultural preservation through fashion.

Accessibility is a challenge for emerging First Nations designers. Fashion schools are concentrated in the most expensive metropolises. Some students drive for hours to get to TAFE.

Fashion is a complicated business. Fashion is a complex business that combines design, production, marketing, branding, and photography. It also includes styling and other formats, from traditional fashion parades to the latest fashion films. How can we make these skills accessible and even touch them?

Many First Nations fashion organizations, including Indigenous Fashion Projects First Nations Fashion + Design and The Mob in Fashion, assist in online, in-person, and mentoring experiences.

Black pride is a storytelling technique.

Indigenous Fashion Projects was a festival that celebrated pride, storytelling, and redefining the idea that fashion is Western or European.

When you purchase First Nations clothing, as Northern Territory Arts Minister Chansey Paech (Arrernte/Gurindji) said at the award ceremony, “you’re buying someone’s history, someone’s connection, and someone’s truth”.

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