Our Take On The David Jones Indigenous Fashion Project Runway

Indigenous Fashion Shines Bright

By Georgia Anderson | 18th May 2024

On Thursday, the David Jones Indigenous Fashion Project (IFP) took over Carriageworks for the fourth year at Australian Fashion Week. This event showcased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander talent with five collections that wove stories of legacy, matriarchy, honour, connection, and country. It was an explosion of colour and culture with a zigzagging runway, animal prints, eclectic accessories, Indigenous models, and traditional ceremonies. Australian fashion model Samantha Harris walked the runway last year but took a front-row seat at this year’s show.

The beauty was dressed in a classic white denim co-ord and leather boots, saying she was “very excited” to be back at Carriageworks to witness First Nation designers showcase their latest collections. She said, “Nights like tonight are particularly important for Indigenous homegrown talent and it’s a whole performance in itself. There’ll be singers, there’ll be dancers, gorgeous models, and beautiful designers. Not only is it beautiful fashion on the runway, but it’s Indigenous fashion and thousands of years of culture and history and I’m so proud to see it all come to life.”

The IFP Pathways Program is a two-year fashion label development program in partnership with David Jones, which supports First Nation designers through workshops, mentoring, and the AFW platform. It’s an important opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visibility, with brands being able to represent their stories to large audiences.

This year, the five labels that presented as a part of the IFP runway were Joseph & James, Miimi and Jiinda, Gali Swim, Lazy Girl Lingerie, and Ihraa Swim.

Style Magazine loved Waayni woman Cassandra Pons’s Lazy Girl Lingerie, which made a bold return to the catwalk with the collection titled ‘Ocean Eyes’. It explores the connection we feel to the ocean and encourages us to think about the impact our buying has on the environment.

Notable styles included lace bodysuits, slip dresses, and glamorous robes that aimed to inspire women of all backgrounds to feel confident in their bodies. One standout was an off-the-shoulder ivory bodysuit dress with a flowing sheer robe adorned with pearls, a pearl necklace, and pearl detailing on the strappy heels giving an ethereal feel.

Mother and daughter duo, Gumbaynggirr, Dunghutti, and Bundjalung women, Melissa Greenwood and Lauren Jarrett of Miimi & Jiinda delivered earthy prints in free-flowing designs styled with woven accessories for the ultimate elevated beach holiday feel. We loved the oversized sleeve detailing on the dresses, and the models took to the bright blue runway barefoot, focusing the audience’s attention solely on the collection.

The looks weren’t just served on the runway, with celebrities, designers, stylists, and fashionistas taking the opportunity to make a statement during Australia’s most fashionable week of the year.

The In Relation Way theme was carried outside by Justine Ndayrkisimba, who says she’s “always looking for something chic and colourful that represents the African continent. We like wearing something that is always vibrant and loud, so that’s the inspiration for today.”

Fashion Designer Tommy Ge was wearing his label LEATHERON with a bright orange fitted suit, only the second suit that he has ever designed that’s not leather. He finished the look with a leather vest, Palladium sneakers, an Adidas X Ivy Park bag, and a Tissot watch.

Fashion Designer Tommy Ge was wearing his label LEATHERON. Tommy Ge shared that he gained inspiration for his collections during Australian Fashion Week and found one trend that dominated the catwalk and street style. He said, “This year I saw some amazing open-back features. For me, that’s something that I’ve been eyeing out. I think a while back Dion Lee started doing detailing in the back of his jackets, and this year there are a lot of open features, and I saw that as a very prominent trend. Also, the oversized shoulders and sleeves are cool to generate silhouette and contrast.”

Other notable trends included denim, cowboy boots and hats, fishnet stockings, sequins, zebra prints, chunky shell accessories, and wedge boots.

Stylist and Creative Director at Tidbit Sydney, Sarah Tatjana, has been coming to Australia Fashion Week for eleven years and said the importance of showcasing homegrown talent to an international audience can’t be underestimated.

She said, “Over the years, the industry has changed, and so it’s lovely to see that Sydney is supporting all different types of people, walks of life, different cultures, and creating a platform for people to grow. Being a creative in this industry can be difficult; we do it because we love it. These events are about community, and it’s about having different people in the industry come together and support each other. There’s always room at the table, and I think it’s really important that IMG and Fashion Week and all the sponsors get together every year and push forward the emerging designers.”

Australia Fashion Week wraps up on Friday, 17th May 2025.

By Georgia Anderson Georgia is a journalist and marketeer who enjoys meeting new people and covering interesting stories. You'll find her at her desk with a coffee, walking in the park, in a luxury shop or daydreaming about France.




You want it, we got it! 

Everything you need to know about fashion, beauty, food, lifestyle, and travel straight to your inbox.