As part of The Iconic’s commitment to supporting First Nations brands, the online retail giant teamed up with not-for-profit organisation First Nations Fashion and Design (FNFD) to create an incubator program to spotlight Australia’s Indigenous fashion talent. The program kicked off in April 2023 and over nine months the First Nations designers selected to participate were given access to tools and resources to help commercialise their creative brands. Gayle Burchell, The Iconic’s chief co
ief commercial and sustainability officer said, “Over the course of the program we have witnessed incredible talent, drive and dedication from these gifted designers and we’re proud to bring this extraordinary collection to our customers across Australia and New Zealand.” Workshops, tours, and experiences guided by cultural peers and curated by industry experts and educators covered key pillars of the fashion business including brand development, merchandising and marketing. The result of this intensive incubator program is a collection stocked on The Iconic as part of the retailer’s First Nations edit. Grace Lillian Lee, FNFD’s founder and chair said, “The partnership has given the designers a new platform to showcase their incredible work and FNFD is thrilled to see the collections launched on The Iconic. It is through these initiatives that we can continue to support the self-determination of First Nations Peoples within the industry, and assist them in further developing skills to grow their businesses.” Inside Retail spoke to the designers of Jarawee, Pink Fish and Myrrdah to discuss the incubator program and what it meant for their respective brands. Jarawee Briana Enoch, founder of the brand Jarawee, is a Kuranda-based designer who first debuted a collection of high-end fashion at Australian Afterpay Fashion Week back in 2021. Enoch’s designs are inspired by elements of her father’s Quandamooka Country, healing stories on Stradbroke Island, the eucalyptus and its many uses and benefits. “I’ve learnt so much in the past year. We designers were at all different stages but had all experienced different difficulties to get to the next stage of where our label is currently. Going through the process of bringing our designs to life and becoming retail-ready has been so beneficial to me and my label to progress to the next stage,” Enoch told Inside Retail. Enoch’s designs for Jawawee are universal and made for everyone and she aspires to have her garments stocked on the racks of Australian boutiques and department stores next to her Australian fashion peers. “I believe that we need more opportunities to sell in high-end boutiques. I dream one day that my designs will be sold next to Carla Zampatti, Bianca Spender and Alex Perry,” she said. Enoch is already passing on her learnings from The Iconic’s incubator program with her community to empower and educate other First Nation designers. “Indigenous Fashion shows the potential that we bring a niche to the fashion market. I’m looking forward to seeing the growth of more First Nation designers. And we can only do that if we are teaching the next generation of young people,” explained Enoch. “I have been going back to my community and sharing with a group of young people all that I have been learning on a basic scale. Already we are seeing potential amongst my little group, imagine what we could do on a larger scale!” Pink Fish Gungganji designer, Elverina Johnson, is launching her new brand Pink Fish in line with The Iconic’s First Nations edit. Jonhson is a respected artist who has collaborated with Taking Shape on two collections, including one that was featured in Vogue Australia and on the runway at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week. Johnson’s creative direction for Pink Fish is focused on representing her community and the stories that have been passed down from her Ancestors – designing wearable art that is inspired by her life growing up in Far North Queensland. “Having my collection on The Iconic is a huge achievement which gives my brand Pink Fish a greater platform to stand on – it opens up a much larger scale of exposure to potential customers,” Johnson told Inside Retail. The designer behind the Pink Fish brand was grateful for the mentorship afforded by the incubator program and the path paved previously by the leaders of Australia’s Indigenous fashion. “To see the rise of Indigenous fashion in the fashion industry space is amazing. It’s been a long road to get to this point and we have to recognise the earlier pioneers of Indigenous fashion who paved the way for those of us who are coming through now. Let’s hope this is another platform to create change through another creative means of storytelling through the clothes we wear,” explained Johnson. The Iconic is Australia and New Zealand’s leading fashion and lifestyle destination and gives designers a huge marketplace to attract new customers, where Johnson is excited to stock her designs inspired by the stories she learned from her mother and grandmother. “I love seeing all people wear my designs. It doesn’t matter who they are and what colour they are. If you’re wearing my designs you can be sure it will be a conversation starter. If clothes can become a means to create education and change then why not?” Myrrdah Myrrdah is the ethical fashion label founded by four Mt Isa designers, Glenda McCulloch, Jaunita Doyle, Dale Bruce, and Cheryl Perez, who were originally part of the Cungelella Art collective. The brand’s fashion collection is grounded in modern Indigenous art that is designed to be wearable, taking their artworks from canvas to fabric. “We are inspired by our homelands and our culture and our way of living. We strive to design pieces that make us feel beautiful and comfortable and have a flow and movement about them so that we can go about our day carefree… well, as carefree as we can with kids!” the founders of Myrrrdah told Inside Retail. The bold colours of the fashion brand’s prints are inspired by the sunsets, rock faces, clay and landscape of the four sisters’ traditional homelands on Kalkatungu Country in Northwest Queensland – where they grew up and continue to raise their children. For the designers of Myrrdah, having their designs stocked by The Iconic has been a dream come true which the FNFD’s incubator program made possible. “This opportunity has given us access to leaders and those already in the fashion industry to learn from and call on for advice. As we live so remotely, we wouldn’t normally have access to this so we feel having these people in our support network is valuable,” concluded the creatives behind Myrrdah.