SYDNEY — Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creatives were celebrated at the third annual National Indigenous Fashion Awards, which were announced in Darwin, Northern Territory on Wednesday.
Staged at the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair — Australia’s largest First Nations visual art event, which showcases work from more than 75 Indigenous art centers — the awards recognize and showcase excellence across the categories of fashion and textile design, business, traditional adornment, wearable art and community collaboration.
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Melbourne-based Wiradjuri woman Denni Francisco took the Fashion Designer Award for the second consecutive year, earning her back-to-back 12-month business mentorships with Australian retail chain Country Road.
The Business Achievement Award went to Laura Thompson, the Gunditjmara cofounder of Melbourne-based Clothing the Gaps, an Aboriginal social enterprise and certified B Corp, which specializes in streetwear emblazoned with activist slogans like “Aboriginal Land — Tread Lightly” and “Always Was, Always Will Be,” a key slogan of the Australian Indigenous land rights movement. The brand name is a play on Closing the Gap, an Australian federal government health initiative to help close the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Esther Yarllarlla, a Kunibidji artist who works with the Bábbara Women’s Centre in Maningrida, Northern Territory, won the Traditional Adornment Award for her women’s Mókko, a traditional skirt made from hand-knotted “bush rope,” while the Community Collaboration Award went to Yankunytjatjara artist Linda Puna of the Mimili Maku Arts collective located on the APY Lands (Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands, a local government area for Aboriginal people), and Melbourne-based vegan brand Unreal Fur, for their collaboration