The First Nations Fashion Council just announced its board of directors and it’s stellar


No surprises here, we’re huge fans of all of them.

You might remember how excited we were back in March when Teagan ‘TJ’ Cowlishaw and Grace Lillian Lee formally announced the launch of the country’s first-ever First Nations Fashion Council. Today, they’ve announced Jirra Harvey and Yatu Widders Hunt as the women who will join them on the board of directors. Together they will lead the national industry body, designed to “support the growth of a self-sustaining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island fashion and design ecosystem”.

The council is an important first within the Australian fashion industry; its purpose is to facilitate the growth of First Nations involvement within the fashion sector. Although thriving, Indigenous Australian fashion design has only just started to receive budding industry recognition.

Grace told us of the importance of the council back in May. “I think that the industry has no clear guidelines or policy written about Indigenous fashion and Indigenous intellectual property within the realms of fashion – it’s very different to art. I think that we’ve got to play this strange realm of staying connected and aware of our cultural integrity, as well as learning to play in a very Western colonial world of writing policy and planning for growing our future for the next generation.” 

Teagan ‘TJ’ Cowlishaw is a Bardi woman and descendant of the Gypsy Pirates of Shanghai. She runs sustainable streetwear label Aarli and is the national coordinator for First Nations Fashion and Design (FNFD). TJ uses upcycled organic remnant fabrics alongside laser cutting techniques and recyclable and decomposable packaging to ensure there is zero waste in Aarli’s production. 

Grace Lillian Lee, whose roots come from the Meriam Mer peoples of the Eastern Islands of the Torres Strait, is the founder of FNFD. She also creates wearable art and accessories using traditional Torres Strait weaving techniques. Grace aims to preserve these traditional techniques by working with young people from remote communities to develop their art into textiles and adornment in a contemporary way.

Jirra Lulla is a Yorta Yorta and Wiradjuri woman and the founder and director of Kalinya Communications. She started Kalinya to share positive stories about her culture and believes the world would be a better place if more people knew, respected and had access to Indigenous knowledge.

Yatu Widders Hunt is a proud descendent of the Anaiwan and Dunghutti peoples of New South Wales. She is a director at Indigenous specialist communications agency Cox Inall Ridgeway and the founder of thriving Instagram account @ausindigenousfashion, which curates images showcasing the work of Indigenous Australian designers to her 43,600 followers. Yatu told us back in May that she started the Instagram because she observed an absence of media attention surrounding emerging Indigenous creatives, “I wanted to make a platform that really showcased what was going on in a sector that I didn’t think many people knew much about.” 

The council will be undertaking a series of community consultation events during NAIDOC week, as part of their strategic planning process. In the meantime, keep eyes on FNFD for updates.


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