Since the 1960s there has been development of an Australian Indigenous fashion industry that encompasses fabric printing, clothing design, small and large business models and supports the growth and training of indigenous younger generations in varying capacities. There has been decades long textile and fashion development in the Northern Territory art centres and more recent establishment of art centres and programs focused on textile and fashion development in the Kimberley region of WA and northern QLD. There are also individual artists, particularly those based in urban regions of the country, producing their own lines of fashion and accessories. The alignment with the fine arts sector and current art centres models are connecting forces that has seen the development of different models in regional and remote communities.
This research was undertaken to look at the approaches of designers and textile makers within Africa and South East Asia. These regions share common traits to Australian indigenous industry development. They create unique and culturally rich art, textiles and design that reflect on historical and contemporary culture and expression but have a limited market within their nations.
The research in this report is based upon travel and investigation in major fashion capitols, including the western strongholds of New York and London and more importantly the developing fashion capitols of South Africa, Kuala Lumpur and Java.
The report reflects on the strategies that are being explored, which reinforce the necessity for government investment in the industry and protection regarding trade and imports. The report encompasses four main sections that address the key areas that fashion is aligned with: business, textiles, art and education pathways. The sections explore the connections of fashion with history, culture and tradition, regional development and trade and contemporary developments. The research is particularly focused on business models and strategies being explored by artists and designers of African regions and Southeast Asian countries. The report aims to reflect the importance of narrative and storytelling in fashion and art with the inclusion of designers and industry voices in case studies. The results of this research highlighted core themes that were informing changes and success in models across the industry at large. The eight recommendations that conclude this report are presented as a means of connecting and strengthening the Indigenous Australian fashion industry regionally and nationally.