Yousef Akbar is a Sydney based creative, his birthplace is Saudi Arabia. Akbar asked to study fashion in Australia. Worlds and industries and careers apart. He graduated from the Fashion Design Studio with immediate success, beginning his label to great reception. It was a privilege to be a part of the Back of House team with Jody worked tirelessly with Yousef, Georgie and their small team through many nights to bring this collection to life.
Creatively, Akbar said he was inspired by 16th Century Oriental fabrication and tailoring, as well as French painters of the same era whose subject revolved around Oriental culture. “It was interesting to see every day moments and subjects from my history and culture captured by a French painter. It made me feel a strong sense of nostalgia about my culture and home. I was seeing part of my identity, that I can still connect with today. And I wanted to express that.” (paraphrased Alissa Thomas - Grazia) Images: Jody Head and Getty Images for Australian Afterpay Week Yousef Akbar Runway
This June 3, on a day of national significance – Mabo day, also marked a historic milestone on the Australian fashion calendar. For the first time ever, six First Nations designers showcased their collections on the runway at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week (AAFW) on Gadigal Country. It was an honour to work alongside Perina Drummond, Event Group, DAAF and IFP for this historical show.
Presented by Indigenous Fashion Projects (IFP), a Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation program, partnering with IMG Fashion and David Jones, and curated by Perina Drummond, stylist and founder of Jira modeling agency, the runway brought together some of the nation’s most talented and highly awarded Indigenous designers to celebrate its long overdue position on the mainstage.
The designers were; Indii, Kirrikin, Liandra Swim, MAARA Collective, Native Swimwear and Ngali. All actively growing fashion brands, and part of the IFP Pathways Program, created together with David Jones with the aim of opening up opportunities for Indigenous labels through direct mentorships from the department store’s established Australian designers. Credit: Angela Arlow and Getty Images/@gettyimages for Afterpay Australian Fashion Week Indigenous Fashion Projects Runway.
Western Sydney Fashion Festival (WSFF) is an annual community event showcasing a fashion runaway for emerging and culturally diverse fashion designers. This year with 12 designers it was held at Canley Vale on Sat 22 May 2021.
Congratulations to Founder Thuy Nguyen for her tireless work to provide a platform and opportunity for designers to showcase their work. “It's developing a community and to let these fashion designers know that you're not alone,” she said. “There are a lot of amazing, talented people in Western Sydney and we shouldn't be shying away from the spotlight, we should be proud of it.” Designers either approach the organisation to be part of the festival or Thuy finds them through social media. Among the designers in this year’s festival is Alies Bol, founder of Frika Activewear, and mother-daughter duo Susan and Lakshmi Gowda, co-directors of Lakshmi Bee and Public Island Society.
In November, 2020 the Syndicate had the opportunity to meet Anthony Chesler team and volunteer for the day at Thread Together to see their operations.
In an ethical response to fashion waste and towards dignity and hope for a better tomorrow, Thread Together is a registered charity and Australia’s highest ethical response to fashion excess. Thread Together diverts end-of-line, new clothing apparel and footwear from landfill and redistributes it through a network of charities and social service agencies to Australians in need around the country.
HOW CAN PEOPLE FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THREAD TOGETHER AND GET INVOLVED?Thread Together truly believe in a collaborative approach to clothe communities and acknowledge that we do not have the human and financial resources to go it alone.
They need corporate and community volunteers to avail their time to assist us to sort, pick and pack with purpose in our fulfilment centre, to drive our fleet of mobile wardrobes and support our network of stylists in our fashion community hubs.
They need talented individuals to support us to deliver on some of our strategic priorities particularly where we have capacity and capability gaps specifically around marketing, social media, photography and copywriting.
They need introductions to new charities and social service agencies so that we can provide more clothing to people in need; introductions to new fashion partners to ensure we get clothing on to the backs of people doing it tough and not in landfill and introductions to networks for funding to ensure we can continue to deliver our services while we work on becoming financially self sufficient.
Finally, we are entirely reliant on philanthropic support and need financial and in-kind support to ensure that we can continue to deliver our services. For a donation of $5, we are able to provide a new wardrobe to a person in need. Please read the Australian Fashion Council update about how Thread Together were navigating the lock downs in 2020.
National Indigenous Fashion Awards
Australia’s First Nations fashion industry has finally had his spotlight to shine with having its first National Indigenous Fashion Awards hosted by Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair and Indigenous Fashion Projects.
In November, 2019 as part of announcements for upcoming fashion projects The Syndicate were invited to the Australian Fashion Council Roundtable having been introduced by friend and Founder of Jira Models, Perina Drummond. Taking place at Citizen Wolf at Darling Square we were fortunate to meet Nina Fitzgerald, Clare Summers of Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, Bianca Hunt, Liandra Gaykamangu, Peter Naughtion of Artisans of Fashion and also Mark and Steph from Publisher Textiles. David Giles-Kaye the CEO of Australian Fashion Council at that time lead the meeting and workshop. Over the following months established stronger existing relationships with various groups within this network.
Most rewarding was meeting Elisha and Christian Hampson of Yerrabingin Gardens where we had planned our Sydney event for the upcoming awards. Unfortunately, this pandemic Covid had other ideas and as the Government restrictions changed from week to week it was safer to hold the event at a later date.
The Inaugural National Fashion Awards were to be held in Darwin on 5 August 2020 and we were all invited to nominate Designers and Artists who we felt should be considered. The Syndicate were so pleased for the following nominations in the following categories for NSW based artists and designers.
The Cultural Adornment and Wearable Art Award
Debra is a Sydney based artist and designer from the Palawa/Yorta Yorta and Gamilaraay/Wonnarua Nation.
Her artwork is a combination of Women’s business, which acknowledges the past whilst moving forward to the future. Her jewellery is made with a strong connection to country and the importance of looking after people and the environment. Her jewellery has been used in fashion runways, presentations, programs and collaborative workshops. (paraphrased: Indigenous Fashion Projects, Aug 2020)
Ngarrumiimi expresses some of the most exquisite artworks, handprinted fabrics and garments which are masterfully created by Lillardya Alirra Briggs-Houston who is a Wiradjuri Yorta Yorta Gangulu woman based in Narranderra, NSW.
Her pieces tell the story of the sandhills in Narranderra where her grandmother raised her. See her website for more of her creations. Ngarrumiimi was also nominated for the Textile Design Award category.
Textile Design Award
Dumphna Kerinaula, Kaye Brown, Michelle Woody, Nina Lydwina Puruntatameri, Corneila Tipuamanturmirri and Bernadette Mungtopi all from the Munupi Association Arts and Crafts Association, Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association and Naruwanajirri Arts all of whom are based on the Tiwi Islands.
These six artists share stories of their connection to country through Jilamara (design). Their work takes inspiration from being on country in the Tiwi Islands. The different symbols seen through their work include Japara the moon, Japalinga the stars, the sun, bush tucker and hunting. Their beautiful designs were included in fashion labels North 2019 Tiwi collection. The Syndicate had the privilege of being able to include some of the pieces of this collection in a small event for Inspirational Indigenous Women in August, 2019.
The Community Collaboration Award
So, pleased that Babbarra Designs based in Maningrida were nominated alongside Publisher Textiles for this special award. Having worked together for 20 years together they have produced hundreds of metres of fabric and have been able to improve and increase printing out on Country.
Babbarra have 25 incredible artists and The Syndicate is pleased to have been able to acquire a textile artwork by artist Janet Marawarr following the trip by Babbarra ladies to Paris, France last year.
Environmental and Social Contribution Award
Liandra Swim is intent on making a positive and impacting the environmental and social space in fashion. Their signature and culturally infused prints are digitally created in-house and named after inspiring Indigenous Australian women. Each collection of new designs and prints highlights the achievements of these woman a perfect, contemporary and unique way to share culture through the wider community. Liandra Swim was also deserving nominated for the Fashion Design Award.
Fashion Design Award
As Ambassadors for Ngali Australia we were so happy to see Denni Francisco and team be nominated for the Fashion Design Award. Ngali blends quality garments in modern silhouettes, layered with evocative Indigenous art and photography.
The label is working towards a scalable business model and contributes to a few social projects including a place called Papunya a remote Aboriginal community north west of Alice Springs. It is known for being the birthplace of the contemporary Aboriginal art movement in Australia. Ngali is part of B1G1 Worth Cause in one of the most remote communities in the world with harsh weather climate, where children are able to learn on donated computers, supervised by volunteers who teach the children about the internet with limited access.
MAARA Collective with Designer Julie Shaw was one of our NSW Finalists and the overall winner of the Fashion Design Award and also Community Collaboration Award. Within her designs and the also the name of her label honours the ‘many hands’ that are involved in her collections. Growing up in Lightning Ridge on Yuwaalaraay Country, NSW. She carries the strong cultural value of sharing and collaboration. Her hand dye ombre pieces are hand-dyed and inspired by Lightning Ridge sunsets.
NIFA was screened on 5 August 2020 and the stories of the finalists were expressed beautifully through the broadcast. The winners were:-
FASHION DESIGN AWARD
MAARA Collective is an Australian luxury resortwear line embracing a collaborative approach to fashion and lifestyle.
Founder/Creative Director Julie Shaw, a Yuwaalaraay woman from NSW Australia, has developed this premium line to showcase and celebrate Indigenous art + fashion.
The word MAARA refers to ‘hands’ in the Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay language groups.
MAARA works in collaboration with key Indigenous artists and artisans, drawing inspiration from Country to create a contemporary fashion & lifestyle brand with a luxe aesthetic.
The Resort ‘20 Collection, produced in collaboration with Bula’bula Art Centre of N/E Arnhem Land debuted at the Darwin Art Fair as part of the ‘From Country to Couture’ runway show.
CULTURAL ADORNMENT AND WEARABLE ART AWARD
Peggy Griffiths created the stunning Legacy Dress which has layers of linen and canvas hand painted by Peggy depicting Jilinybeng (bush cucumber) other layers of the dress were made by Peggy’s grand daughters. The Legacy Dress bought young and old artists together through a form of art they enjoy being Fashion.
TEXTILE DESIGN AWARD
Kieren Karritpul of Merrepen Arts
Kieren Karritpul is 26 and an artist and fabric designer from Nauiyu in the NT, who takes inspiration from the fishing nets of his youth and dreamtime stories. Kieren’s screen printed fabrics are stocked at Darwin’s Clothing Hub. Kieren likes that his art is an important to tell all stories in a new way. His work will feature in the Aboriginal Screen-Printed Textiles from Australia’s Top End exhibition in the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles.
COMMUNITY COLLABORATION AWARD
Julie Shaw x Bula’Bula Arts
Mary Dhapalany, Evonne Munuyngu and Margaret Malibirr are master weavers for Bula’bula Arts. Weaving since they were kids, they inherited this skill from generations before them. Collecting pandanus, harvesting materials and shaping various objects. Hilary Crawford, CEO of Bula’Bula Arts Aboriginal Corporation welcomed Julie to Yolngu country to work with the master weavers on a collection of accessories. These beautiful weaved headwear that are layered from the centre out and are exquisite creations that were seen on the Country to Couture 2019.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD
Bede Tungutalum is well known in the Australian Art Scene founded the iconic Tiwi fabric and label design Tiwi Design with Giovanni Tipungwuiti in the 1970’s. Bede created the digital print called ‘Arawunikiri’ which was created to celebrate 50 years in business. He says of his art is a continuation of their culture, from the past into their future.
SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTRIBUTION AWARD
Ninti One means ‘clever one’ in the Arrernte Aboriginal language. Niniti One helped to support and advocate for a project for artists who create string bags known as ‘bilum’ which are inspired by the knowledge of Aboriginal Art and Fashion economies to Papua New Guinea. These bags are a vital source of female artisans and have cultural significance. They carry food, firewood and the craft are passed down from one generation to the next. However, there are cheap machine-made knock offs being sold at markets. This practice is impacting the livelihoods. Ninti One advocated for law reform and worked with locals to create an intellectual property framework and helping to protect Intellectual Property and sustaining cultural identity across generations.
Congratulations to the all the Nominees and Winners of Australia’s first ever National Fashion Indigenous Awards.
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This year in March, The Syndicate attended the Global Indigenous Runway which was held at the Goldfields Theatre of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. The runway celebrated Indigenous culture through fashion with a selection of both Emerging and Established Designers.
There were the couture evening gowns from Murrii Quu, native florals of Lavashe Couture and a particular favourite for our team was the use of vintage blankets cleverly crafted into one-off pieces that transcended the runway. We learnt that Jeanine was inspired to create her designs as blankets were a symbol of colonisation and currency which appealed to her environmental and sustainable conscience. A woollen blanket was an item traded for land. It is one of the first gifts of colonisation for Maori people.
The combining of blankets, luxury, slow and sustainable fashion, unique design and ultimate craftsmanship first came to our attention with Danish Designer Marit Ilison who used woven jacquard pieces and raw cut edges within her conceptual ‘Longing for Sleep’ collection.
NZ Designer Jeanine Clarkin has had a life-long love of fashion and founded her eponymous label in 1994 she works from her studio on Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf of Auckland. Her unique design style draws from her Maori culture and enjoyment of travel and art. During her career she’s also been a costume designer for dance and theatre, a fashion show producer and creative director as well as a curator for art exhibitions. Jeanine showed at New Zealand Fashion Week 2019 together with designer Shona Tawhaio in a group show called AHO supported by Auckland Council. Jeanine’s beautiful designs are a clever blend of the past and present in a delightful rainbow of hues that brought a lot of joy and vibrancy to the runway. As New Zealand went into a Level 4 lockdown we have been following Jeanine’s creative journey during isolation.
A feature of this year for Fashion Revolution Week 2020 is Fashion Open Studios providing delegates the opportunity to meet Designers virtually and step into the studios and homes of the teams behind their collections.
Yesterday our team joined many across the world to hear from some of the most innovative Designers in this day and age. Matthew Needham worked with four Designers for his MA collection for Central Saint Martins where he graduated a week before lock-down in the UK. The Designers were joined by Sarah Mower the international journalist and critic for US Vogue who is also the ambassador for Emerging Talent for the British Fashion Council.
Inspiration for Needham's collection came from a trip he took to Bodo, Norway in 2015 where he was moved by the landscape having growing up in Leicester he had not ‘seen Mountains’ like this before. Coincidentally he met another fellow student at CSM who was from Bodo who had a tattoo 'Oyeblikk' on his knee which means in Norwegian ‘in a blink of an eye’ and so the concept for his collection started to evolve with the main theme for the collection being transformation.
Helen Kirkham a qualified footwear designer is a renowned upcycle Designer who formerly worked for Adidas was asked by Matthew to work with him on this collection at a time where she did not have the capacity, given her own commitments. Upon discussing the concept and enthused with his passion and process she created nine pairs of shoes which Fibram fiver finger toe shoes and repurposed Manolo Blahnik's from Sarah Mower’s closest.
Jo Miller a qualified Milliner who studied at the Royal College of Art was formerly the resident Milliner at Sarabane Studios set up by Alexander McQueen Foundation. Whilst developing her own practices she worked beside Sophia Webster, Studio XO and James Kelly. She shared in this talk that she creates primarily millinery and not occasion wear. For the 'Oyeblikk' collection she was able to stay true to her art form and created non-toxic resin balloon hats.
Created over a six-month period jeweller and fellow collaborator Alice Potts created with Matthew a earring piece called ‘The Tearing’ made from Matthew’s actual tears. What was fascinating was the different molecular structure of different emotions shown in his tears over this six-month period as pictured.
Needham’s collection was perfectly complete with his pieces he referred to as luxury leftovers. His ‘Air Shape’ top was created using dead stock silk from Alexander McQueen and also duvets he sourced from Barnardos.
Matthew Needham, Alice Potts, Jo Miller and Helen Kirkham were able to explore and give light to the art forms they are devoted transforming ideas to creating stories and behind these pieces through the 'Oyeblikk' collection. Today they are some of the world’s most innovative and dynamic Designers and artists. Photo Credit: ID Magazine and Matthew Needham.
The best and most simple sustainable fashion act we can apply is to love and wear our clothes longer. The more we wear our clothes, the more we care for them and the longer they last. As part of Fashion Revolution Week 2020. The Syndicate are asking fashion lovers to join the fashion revolution and create a love story by sharing something you love to wear and why on Instagram, Facebook and let us know by tagging us on your Instagram post @syndicate_1319 or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thesyndicatesydney/. You can also email us with your loved fashion piece to firstname.lastname@example.org. Look forward to hearing from you.
This week The Syndicate is part of Fashion Revolution Week which is held annually from April 20th – 24th. This is to remember the 1138 people mostly garment workers of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh who were killed on 24 April 2013 when the plaza collapsed. The Rana Plaza was eight stories high which housed a bank, shops and five garment factories who serviced Benetton, Bonmarche, Cato Fashions, The Children’s Place, El Corte Ingles, Joe Fresh, Kik, Mango, Matalan and Primark.
How did this happen?
Large structural crackers were discovered in the building on 23 April. The shops, bank and lower floors immediately closed after officials ordered an evacuation, however the deadline-conscious factory garment owners on the upper floors ordered 3500 garment workers back to their sewing machines threatening them with losing their jobs if they objected. On 24 April when the workers arrived, hours later and in just 90 seconds the entire building collapsed. 1138 including rescue workers were killed. 2600 workers survived however most sustained life injuries, some only able to be rescued by amputation.
Why did the garment workers return to work?
Often, desperate poor people work in dangerous conditions especially for large well-known companies which gives then a sense of stability. However, when disaster strikes these businesses try to distance themselves and believe they can do this quickly because these people are powerless.
What has happened since 2013
Since then many of the companies linked to Rana Plaza came forward to pay compensation except Benetton who initially tried to distance their business, however there was irrefutable evidence they were connected and after 2 years acknowledged their involvement and paid $1.1m into the Rana Plaza Trust fund. Because of how Benetton managed this crisis there was a call for great transparency in supply chains in the Fashion industry. The Accord for Fire and Building Safety was also created. https://bangladeshaccord.org/ and now more factories through out the world have created their own Fire and Building safety agreements with factory owners.
Fashion Revolution Week
Fashion Revolution Week through out the world started with teams in 91 countries.
Since Fashion Revolution started, people from all over the world have used their voice and their power to tell brands that things must change. And it’s working. The industry is starting to change. More brands are being open about where their clothes are made. More manufacturers are making their factories safer. More producers are being seen and heard.
But the story is far from over. We are only just getting started. We can’t stop until every garment worker who makes the clothes we love is seen, heard, paid properly and working in safe conditions. Your voice does make a difference.
We need to make this Fashion Revolution Week bigger and bolder than ever before. Ask brands #whomademyclothes? And for 2020 this year we are highlighting textiles and fabrics with #whatsinmyclothes?
The Syndicate team will demonstrate through this week how we will commerate this special week.
As part of the Virgin Airlines Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival Ideas Program this year the Syndicate attended the Indigenous Fashion Storytelling Session at the MPavillion to hear Yatu Widders Hunt talk with Sandy Greenwood, Shelley Ware and Perina Drummond about their stories and connection to Indigenous Design, Art and Fashion. This year the First Nations Fashion Design Council was announced at VAMFF. Photos: Jimmy Widders-Hunt.
With 15 years of experience between us, we are a team of like minded professionals working with inspirational creatives who will push the envelope in pursuit of creative excellence. Our first blog will be posted January, 2019.