To research the growing global Indigenous fashion industry to support a Kimberley textile industry

South Africa
Land, Commerce and Logistics
The Arts
To research the growing global Indigenous fashion industry to support a Kimberley textile industry featured image

The purpose of this research is to grow knowledge and share international strategies and connections with the growing First Nations fashion Industry in Australia. Since the 1960s there has been development of an Australian First Nations fashion sector that encompasses fabric printing, clothing design, and small and large business models and supports the growth and training of First Nations youth. There are independent designers, collectives and Indigenous Art Centres growing and exploring textiles and fashion models to create real pathways for economic, cultural and social development. 

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 Jakarta. The report explores the approaches of designers and textile makers within these regions, and their strategies for the growth of the industry locally, nationally and globally. 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 and are looking to grow their industry and international market reach.  

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 reflects the importance of narrative and storytelling in fashion and art, and First Nations' ownership of their narratives, 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, with an aim of growing our international export opportunities.

Belinda was a 2021 Policy Impact Program participant and featured in the Policy Futures publication with her article First Nations First. Watch her presentation below. You can also watch all PIP presentations here.


Belinda Cook

Belinda Cook

  • Hidden
  • Name of the person making the enquiry.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Use the categories below to filter the search results: