The spring edition of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, scheduled to run from April 6 to 10 at the Carriageworks venue, will be immediately followed by the very first showcase of indigenous Australian designers — Australian Indigenous Fashion Week.
Two years in the planning, Australia’s latest fashion event will take place at the Sydney Town Hall on April 11.
Organized by indigenous Australian marketing company All the Perks in partnership with Indigenous Business Australia and National Indigenous TV, AIFW will showcase the work of 30 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses working across fashion, accessories, textiles, furniture and crafts.
Many of the firms were uncovered during All the Perks’ Indigenous Design and Art Survey in 2012, which had more than 220 respondents, including artists from 100 indigenous art centers across Australia.
The program will include runway shows, workshops, a trade fair and an industry forum, whose guest speakers will explore AIFW’s theme of “Story, Style and Sustainability.”
A few indigenous brands such as Kooey Swimwear and Desert Designs have participated in MBFWA, as has Melbourne-based Indian designer Roopa Pemmaraju, whose fabrics are developed with remote Aboriginal artist collectives such as the Warlukurlangu and Waringarri communities.
AIFW will give exposure to many under-the-radar names such as Mia Brennan (Mimi Designs), Grace Lillian Lee (Jetty Love), jeweler Alison Page (Mondial Neuman Diamond Dreaming), weaver Mavis Ganambarr, Eva Wanganeen, Shaun Edwards (Made in Cape York), Amy Tracey (Flannel Billy), Renna Whaleboat and Lyn-Al Young.
Many took part in All the Perks’ 10-month Australian Indigenous Design Initiative and have been mentored by well-known Australian fashion names such as Akira Isogawa and Josh Goot.
Others to reach out to the event include Sophie Nixon, a former senior designer at Willow and Sass & Bide, now AIFW’s production manager/head stylist, and Harpers Bazaar’s editor at large Brana Wolf, who is consulting to AIFW and will be working closely with all designers.
Twenty-two indigenous Australian models will also appear at the event, including 18 faces scouted via a model search conducted with Sydney agency Chic Management, which already represents AIFW ambassador Samantha Harris, an indigenous Australian and Vogue Australia cover girl.
“Right from the beginning, we’ve had industry support,” said All the Perks managing director Krystal Perkins. “Our designers have worked tirelessly to the point where hopefully they can actually be appreciated as designers from Australia, rather than just Aboriginal designers. My hope is that it just grows and everyone improves on their businesses and their products and we do ultimately achieve the objective of indigenous economic development and also training and career opportunities.”
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