David Jones is extending its Indigenous support programs, partnering with the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation to present a pathways program for Indigenous fashion designers.
The program will roll on an annual basis, and will be facilitated through workshops, seminars, mentoring and networking opportunities in order to provide support at all stages of a designer’s development and provide the expertise of Australia’s fashion leaders.
“Providing an opportunity to design talents who may not have the platform to reach a commercial level is crucial to the development and enrichment of our industry,” David Jones’ general manager of womenswear, footwear and accessories Bridget Veals said.
“It broadens our fashion offering and allows for deep storytelling and a greater connection and understanding of cultures. Our role in the program is to listen and understand the needs of our First Nations fashion designers and provide support at all stages of the development of a fashion label.”
The program is a continuation of a commitment to support local, and a desire to give back to and learn from Australia’s First Nations people, Veals said.
Ngali founder Denni Francisco is the first announced designer to be part of the program, and said David Jones has a respect and understanding about what is important to Indigenous-owned brands.
“Our businesses go beyond the creation of product,” Francisco said. “Their support of Ngali and other Indigenous labels helps a bigger audience celebrate our culture and creativity and also helps add a meaningful dimension to the fashion choices customers make, because our culture is embedded in everything we do.”
And partnering with DAAFF allows David Jones to be guided by experts, and to better understand the issues and challenges at hand. DAAFF chair Francesca Cubillo said the program isn’t only to support designers, but also about facilitating shared learnings – within David Jones, and without.
“We hope this leadership and program will create a model for the fashion industry, as well as other creative industries, in how they too can support Indigenous creatives,” Cubillo said.