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A series of First Nations designers will be stocked at David Jones as part of a new capsule collection

IMAGES VIA DAVID JONES

WORDS BY COBY RENKIN

Showcasing some of Australia’s best.

In an industry first, David Jones has announced the five First Nations designers it will feature in its upcoming First Nations Designer Capsule Collection arriving next week. 

The collection will feature designs from Ngali, Kirrikin, Liandra Swim, Native Swimwear and Maara Collective. A curation of 66 pieces, shoppers can expect the First Nations Designer Capsule to reflect the designers’ love for their land through vibrant prints, modern silhouettes, natural fibres and quality materials all designed and manufactured in Australia. 


For more fashion news, shoots and features, head to our Fashion section.


The collection shows significant progress for the mainstream Australian fashion industry. Widespread access to Indigenous designs was once a distant dream but now we can easily purchase Indigenous-inspired pieces made by First Nations artists and designers.

The ability to pop into a shop and walk away with a First Nations design will be a first for many customers who have previously had to shop solely online or at pop-ups for these items. Read more about the designers involved below.

Maara Collective

 

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Designer Julie Shaw’s Indigenous heritage is at the root of her designs and she aims to redefine summer staples using simple lines and natural fabrications. ‘Maara’ means hands in the Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay language groups and the name Maara Collective is in honour of the many hands involved in the creative process.

Speaking on the inspiration behind the collection, Shaw said “The Resort 2022 Collection features the dreamy ‘Tjukula’ (waterholes) print which has been licensed by Pitjantjatjara artist Lexie Michael of Ernabella Arts Inc… This artwork is ancient in story and place, yet sits so effortlessly within a contemporary fashion collection”.

Kirrikin

 

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Wonnarua woman Amanda Healy is the designer behind Kirrikin, which translates to ‘Sunday best’. Kirrikin offers effortlessly elegant resort wear and works with contemporary Indigenous Australian artists, ensuring that a percentage of each purchase goes directly to the artists behind the design.

On the First Nations Designer Capsule Collection, Healy said: “The Capsule experience gives me the opportunity to tell the stories of my people and to show the gorgeous and vibrant colours of our country, but most importantly this will allow our brand to be seen and heard… to me, it also means that I can find a larger audience for the brand, and therefore get money back to our wonderful artists and their communities.”

Liandra Swim

 

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Liandra Swim is an eco-conscious and ethically minded swimwear label with a vision to educate and celebrate the resilience, brilliance and versatility of Indigenous Australia. Designer Liandra Gaykamangu designs each of her pieces to share a unique story inspired by her own lived experiences with references to Indigenous dot painting.

For her SS21/22 collection, Gaykamangu found inspiration in the Milingimbi community of North-East Arnhem Land. It’s the place she first called home and somewhere she has strong familial and cultural ties. Regarding her collection, Gaykamangu said, “I remember the early days, dreaming about an opportunity to be in front of Bridget Veals [David Jones’ Womenswear Buyer] and now that it is here I just feel so fulfilled”.

Native Swimwear

As a First Nations woman and the founder of Native Swimwear, Natalie Cunningham incorporates various aspects of her culture into her designs by ensuring they are all 100 per cent handcrafted using sustainable fabrics such as discarded fishing nets and regenerated plastic bottles that would otherwise kill marine animals.

Cunningham’s culture taught her to care for country and “This understanding has led me to utilise my fashion platform so consumers too can contribute to looking after the land and the waterways, not only for our generation, but also for generations to come,” she said.

Ngali

 

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Designer Denni Francisco’s label Ngali uses the perfect balance of sleek shapes and prints to celebrate country. ‘Ngali’ translates to ‘we’ or ‘us’ in many Indigenous languages and it’s through her label that Francisco sees the collaborative and connected version of ‘us’ most clearly. Ngali’s work focuses on print and blending style with storytelling to create gentle and respectful pieces.

As a Wiradjuri woman, Francisco said on the ways fashion connects with her culture: “Art is a lens through which our people see, understand and communicate with others. We want more people to know who we are, who we’ve always been and that there’s more to us than what you see through the lens of 200 years of colonisation.”

The collection will be available to shop online and in store at David Jones Pacific Fair from October 25. To read about more Indigenous Australian designers, head here.

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