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Meet The Fashion Designers Honouring Indigenous Culture

"People are finally taking notice of this movement that’s happening in Indigenous art and design"

The year 2020 marks 250 years since James Cook’s first voyage to Australia, yet today Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still aren’t acknowledged in our constitution.

The time is now for recognition and reform, as called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. We’re calling for real change, not mere symbolism. It’s time Indigenous people are acknowledged as our First People and have their voice enshrined in the constitution.

This month, marie claire joins forces with some of Australia’s biggest and brightest names to unite for change. Here, two Australian designers tell us why the issue matters to them…


“I first created Maara Collective to showcase Indigenous art and fashion. Maara means ‘hands’ in the Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay language groups, and I wanted to honour the ‘many hands’ involved in the creative process. I launched the brand at the From Country to Couture runway show in Darwin in August and collaborated with a group of Aboriginal women from the Bula’bula Arts centre in North-East Arnhem Land. The atmosphere at the show was electric – every model that stepped out was applauded. It was as if people were finally sitting up and taking notice of this movement that’s happening in Indigenous art and design.”


“I remember being 19 and going to the Art Gallery of NSW for the
first time to look at [Indigenous artist] Minnie Pwerle’s artwork. There’s so much soul that goes into her work. Our Resort 2017/18 collection was inspired by Minnie and named Awelye, which means women’s ceremonies in her language, Anmatyerre. We wanted to capture Minnie’s powerful connection to the land. It’s crushingly sad that we don’t acknowledge the rightful owners of the land in Australia’s constitution. It’s time to make a proper change
– something that should have happened [many] years ago.”

Photography by Hugh Stewart.

This story originally appeared in the February issue of marie claire, out now. 

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