Indigenous Designers Attend New York Fashion Week

When Nat Dunn launched her brand Ihraa last year, her goal was to showcase her designs as part of New York Fashion Week.

Exactly two months from now, Baldi, Nur Nur and Nikina’s woman’s dream has come true as her swimsuit hits the runway on the roof of a building on Varick Street in New York City.

She wasn’t the only Western Australian designer, but fellow Pilbara creators Ngarluma, Kariyarra, Nyul Nyul and Yawuru lady Bobbi Lockyer were also selected to showcase her outfit.

For Dan, the opportunity to showcase her Pilbara and Kimberly-inspired designs on the international stage is synonymous with the growing popularity of Indigenous fashion abroad.

european influence

Wonnarua lady Amanda Healy’s label has made a huge impact in Europe.

Her business model is based on buying Aboriginal artwork and converting it into printed fabrics.

Amanda Healy looking at a pink evening dress with indigenous prints.
Amanda Healy has worked with about 16 Indigenous artists since founding the company in 2015.(ABC Kimberly: Abby Richards)

“It’s important for our people to be seen and heard,” she says.

Over the years, Healy has worked with over 16 artists. The money she earns goes back to the community.

Demand after BLM

Perth-based indigenous designer Tiegen (TJ) Kaurishaw has family ties with the Niikina, Baldi and Nur Nur peoples. Her label, AARLI, a Baldi word for fish, was in demand across Australia.

TJ Cowishaw portrait shot
TJ Kaurishaw says indigenous fashion has boomed in the last five years.(ABC Kimberly: Abby Richards)

Cowlishaw said the demand for indigenous designs has increased since the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Australian Fashion Council was unable to provide statistics on sales of indigenous designs, but local designers say the anecdotal evidence speaks for itself.

“There’s been an absolute boom, especially in the last five years,” Kaurishaw says.

“We see not only the collaborations announced each week, but also the appetite not only from the industry, but also from consumers for Indigenous content.”

Woman holding design with child
Nat Dang uses indigenous art to talk about his culture.(ABC News: Claire Moody)

confidence booster

For Nat Dunn, New York Fashion Week is a huge boost to her confidence as a relatively new designer.

“I have moments of doubt…whether what I am doing or what I am putting out there is good, but seeing that it is being watched is a testament to my work being good. It’s just confirmation,” she says.

“I am proud of myself and my family, which is why I want to put Kimberly and Pilbara on the map.”

Two Western Australian designers will showcase their Indigenous art designs on Flying Solo’s ‘Ones to Watch’ runway in front of an audience of 16 million people both online and offline.

catwalk model
Indigenous designers are in increasing demand for their work abroad.(Courtesy: Nat Dann/Lucas Dawson Photography)

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