First Nations Menswear Designers to Make History on David Jones Indigenous Fashion Projects Runway

First Nations fashion labels GALI Swimwear and JOSEPH & JAMES will make history this month, becoming the first menswear collections to grace the prestigious David Jones Indigenous Fashion Projects (IFP) Runway during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week.

The two labels will be among seven Indigenous fashion brands set to captivate audiences at the IFP Runway, which showcases the works of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designers participating in the IFP Pathways Program.

The ground-breaking program was established in 2021 by the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation’s Indigenous Fashion Projects program in partnership with David Jones and nurtures the growth of Indigenous fashion businesses while creating cross-cultural opportunities where mainstream designers can engage in the sharing of Indigenous culture.

Kamilaroi man and GALI Swimwear founder, David Leslie said he was excited to be participating in the annual event and to showcase one of the first menswear collections on the IFP runway.

“My vision for GALI has been to fuse Australia’s First Nations culture with sustainable swimwear to spark conversation, create connection and foster positive change,” he said.

“I’m very excited to share this vision through my latest collection on the runway, which has been developed in collaboration with the Warlukurlangu Artists of Yuendumu from the Northern Territory, for people of all backgrounds, gender identities and ethnicities.

“My collection is not only inspired by my culture but also the collective talent of First Nations designers, including past IFP runway participants, who are among the first to rise to heights in the fashion industry which wasn’t possible for many Indigenous Australians until recent years.

“Everyone deserves to see themselves represented and celebrated in the fashion industry, and everyone is invited to experience my new collection.”
Gooreng Gooreng and South Sea Islander woman and JOSEPH & JAMES founder, Juanita Page said she hoped being one of the first two designers to present menswear collections at the showcase would inspire others to do the same.

“It’s an honour to be one of the first, and I hope it encourages more First Nations menswear designers to come through the Pathways Program with Indigenous Fashion Projects and David Jones,” she said.

“I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to unveil my latest collection on the runway at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week. First Nations mob are known for their storytelling, and I just so happen to outwork this through fashion.

“It’s in the colour palette, the detail-centric designs, and how the fabric choices connect with the silhouette of the garments. Everything is created to come together and create a uniform story unique to my handwriting.”

Adding to the excitement, DAAF Foundation community ambassador Jessica Mauboy will return to the IFP runway for a special performance. The ARIA award-winning artist will be showcasing her vocal talents and will also be collaborating with spoken word artist Melanie Mununggurr for a captivating performance.

“I am thrilled to be performing on the David Jones Indigenous Fashion Projects runway and to see the work of this year’s talented designers,” said Ms Mauboy.
“Last year’s event was an incredibly energetic and vibrant experience, and I know this year will be just as amazing.”

Indigenous Fashion Projects Manager, Michelle Maynard said since the celebrated event was established in 2021, it has helped carve out space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designers in the fashion mainstream.

“The David Jones Indigenous Fashion Projects runway was created to ensure that the immense talent, innovations, and works rooted in thousands of generations of culture that First Nations designers bring to the Australian and international fashion industry, is represented and celebrated,” she said.

“Acknowledging that there is still a long way to go in terms of representation, our team is proud of the impact this event has had on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples working in the textile and fashion industry.

“Many IFP Pathway Program alumni who presented their first collection on our IFP runway at AAFW have already gone on to have their works featured on the covers of leading magazines and global runways, including Ngali by Denni Francisco and MAARA Collective by Julie Shaw.

“We are counting down the weeks until we gather with industry and audiences on Gadigal Land to see the stunning collections from seven new IFP Pathways Program designers on the runway, and we’re very excited that this year includes our very first menswear collections.”

David Jones’ General Manager of Womenswear, Footwear and Accessories, Bridget Veals said the addition of two First Nations menswear labels marked a significant milestone for the program.

“The Pathways Program supports First Nations designers through business development and cultural exchange. We are honoured to bring the industry together on Gadigal Country of the Eora Nation, to pay homage to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across Australia, and to celebrate their rich cultural heritage and diverse design perspectives,” she said.

“The debut of two First Nations menswear brands GALI Swimwear and JOSEPH & JAMES on the IFP Runway demonstrates the success of the program and brings us one step closer to building a more inclusive and representative fashion industry.”

For details and tickets for this year’s David Jones Indigenous Fashions Projects runway, visit:

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