When Nat Dann started her brand Ihraa last year, her goal was to showcase her designs as part of New York Fashion Week.
Exactly two months from now, the Bardi, Nyul Nyul and Nyikina woman’s dream will come true as her swimwear will hit the runway on New York’s Varick Street building rooftop.
She is not the only West Australian designer, with fellow Pilbara creator and Ngarluma, Kariyarra, Nyul Nyul and Yawuru woman Bobbi Lockyer also chosen to showcase her clothes.
For Ms Dann, the opportunity to showcase her Pilbara and Kimberley-inspired designs on the international stage is synonymous with the increasing popularity of Indigenous fashion overseas.
Wonnarua woman Amanda Healy’s label has been making an impact in Europe.
Her business model is based on buying Aboriginal artwork and transforming it into printed fabric.
“It’s important for our people to be seen and heard,” she says.
Over the years, Ms Healy has worked with more than 16 artists — with the money she makes going back into the community.
Demand since BLM
Perth-based Indigenous designer, Teagen (TJ) Cowlishaw has family ties with the Nyikina, Bardi and Nyul Nyul people. Her label, AARLI, a word in Bardi language that means fish, has been in demand across Australia.
Ms Cowlishaw says the demand for Indigenous designs has increased since the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Australian Fashion Council were not able to provide statistics on Indigenous design sales, however, local designers say the anecdotal evidence speaks for itself.
“It has absolutely boomed especially in the past five years,” Ms Cowlishaw says.
“You can see not only with the collaborations coming out weekly, but just that yearning from not only the industry but the consumers for First Nations content.”
For Nat Dann, New York Fashion Week is a huge boost to her confidence as a relatively new designer.
“I have my moments of doubt … whether what I’m doing and what I’m putting out there is good, but to see that it’s being noticed is just confirmation that my work is good,” she says.
The two West Australian designers will showcase their Indigenous art designs at the Flying Solo ‘Ones to Watch’ Runway in front of an audience of 16 million people, both online and offline.