National Indigenous Fashion Awards-winning clothes on display at the Canberra Center

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The Canberra hub brings a diverse fashion experience to the city, showcasing a collection of award-winning clothing from the recently announced National Indigenous Fashion Awards (NIFA) 2022.

The collection features the work of five of the six winning designers and can be found on the glass floor space on Level 1, outside Zara.

Alongside the exhibit are artwork created by renowned artist Wiradjuri and 2021 ACT NAIDOC Artist of the Year recipient, Kristie Peters, as well as indigenous textiles from Bábbarra Designs by the Bábbarra Women’s Center, highly commended in this year’s business achievement category.

Launched in 2020 as part of the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation (DAAFF), Indigenous Fashion Projects (IFP), supported by the Northern Territory Government, NIFA provides a dynamic and exciting platform to celebrate innovation, diversity and ethical practices of the first peoples of fashion and textile nations, while contributing to capacity building in the sector.

Recognizing and showcasing excellence in six categories including Traditional Adornment, Textile Design, Fashion Design, Wearable Art, Community Collaboration and Business Achievement, the awards ceremony is a unique opportunity for the Australian and international fashion community to connect with the world’s oldest living cultures.

This year, the Canberra Center sponsored the Community Collaboration Award, which celebrates effective and productive relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the textile and fashion industry.

The award considers the collaborative process, Indigenous agency, cultural expression and storytelling, social and economic contribution to Indigenous communities, originality and innovation.

Image by Ben Calvert

The recipient of the award is Linda Puna of Mimili Maku-Arts, thanks to her collaboration with the ethical fashion brand Unreal Fur, creating a collection of outerwear including printed puffer jackets and a reversible faux fur jacket, embroidered with the works of Linda.

As part of the project, Linda did a fashion shoot on Country to help young women in the Mimili community develop photography and videography skills and engage the next generation of young people with the art center. She also has a selection of her pieces currently on sale at the National Gallery of Australia.

Other collections on display at the Canberra Center include the work of Laura Thompson, recipient of the Business Achievement Award supported by KIN Fashion. Thompson’s brand, Clothing the Gaps, is a First Nations-led business, boasting both creative and commercial success in textiles and fashion, and positively impacting the Indigenous fashion industry.

For less than three years, Clothing the Gaps has built a platform that elevates the voices and causes of First Peoples. Their successful Free the Flag campaign has made a vital contribution to raising awareness and engaging the whole community to free the Indigenous flag from licensing agreements. Their “Shades of deadly” campaign promoted diversity and inclusion of crowd skin tones.

The recipient of the NIFA Fashion Designer Award is Wiradjuri woman Denni Francisco, who will also be exhibiting works. Her sustainable fashion brand, Ngali, is world-class, taking Indigenous fashion to an international level with strong cultural expression and business capabilities.

Its collection of women’s clothing features digital prints and hand-embellished details adapted from works by First Nations artists from across the country. Presented by Country Road, this award will see Ngali benefit from an ongoing 12-month mentorship with the iconic Australian lifestyle brand.

Image by Ben Calvert

“We hope that by sponsoring the award and displaying these incredible pieces at our centre, we are paying tribute to our talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and fashion designers,” said Canberra center manager Gary Stewart. .

“However, as there has been no representation of Canberra in the awards since its inception, we hope this exhibition will also spark interest from local Indigenous talent to get involved in future National Indigenous Fashion Awards” ,

The NIFA exhibition at the Canberra Center will run until September 12, 2022. More information on the individual winners will be on display with their collections or can be found at NIFA 2022.

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