This Label Is Keeping Aboriginal Stories Alive Through Fashion

This Label Is Keeping Aboriginal Stories Alive Through Fashion

More than a piece

By Dinushka Gunasekara | 24th May 2021

With one of the richest and oldest tapestries of culture in the world, the stories of Indigenous Australians aren’t only an integral part of their traditions – they’re a national treasure, and this homegrown label is helping them transcend in the most stylish way.

Red Ridge the Label is born from the red sandhills of Central West Queensland and shares the stories of its people in wearable art. Their second collection, ‘Georgina’, explores Aboriginal traditional bush medicine through the artworks of Wangkangurru and Yarluyandi sisters and elders Aulpunda ‘Jean’ Barr-Crombie and Anpanuwa ‘Joyce’ Crombie. Leading the way for others to follow, we spoke to the sisters about their inspirations, Reconciliation Week, and the importance of Country.

What inspired Red Ridge The Label?

We have a need to bring forward creative aspirations that tell the stories told by our mother and father, and we are sharing these stories through art and fashion. People will take notice through Red Ridge the Label and allow us as Aboriginal artists to move forward, become recognised as cultural leaders, and women who can drive pathways that create new journeys for everyone.

As elders, we want to lead the way and encourage younger people to be included in the fashion journey, walking in our footsteps and encouraging them to share the stories we have to tell – to be part of and lead a modern world with knowledge from an ancient culture. The journey for us was so hard to start and now we don’t want to stop and give up. We want to create a legacy for our people, our younger people, and future younger people. This is our story, our journey, and our footprints.

How did the Georgina collection come to be?

We have a connection to Country with both the Diamantina and Georgina Rivers, where family worked, played, and lived on the riverbanks. The Georgina collection follows the Diamantina collection inspired by our love for Country, our desire, and dream to bring Aboriginal artworks into fashion.

Our love for Country is powerful and our artwork brings the colours and beauty of Country to life. These places are where family worked, children were born and grew up, playing most of our lives on the rivers and sandhills. The Georgina collection is about bush medicines which grow around the Georgina channel country and desert sandhills. The Sandhill wattle grows on the foot of the sandhills, which connect to the rivers. The gumby gumby is another bush medicine, now used widely.

Traditionally, how are the bush medicines that inspired these designs used?

Bush medicine was used by the older people as it was all they had and all they knew. It has been passed down through generations and now we tell the stories of bush medicine.

Sandhill wattle is used by older people to clean the body by smoking or in smoking ceremonies. It is a bush medicine associated with bush food from the sandy desert of Birdsville area.

What does this year's Reconciliation Week’s theme 'more than a word' mean to you?

Red Ridge the Label is more than a word – it is walking and talking through the art, from canvas to the catwalk. Fashion is a way of spreading the word through art and connecting people back to Country. We are telling the stories of cultural ways through fashion for all to enjoy and allowing people to walk the talk while teaching and learning for future generations, and sharing what we have for the younger generation to maintain the connection.

Red Ridge the Label is a modern way of sharing these stories with younger people. It’s the beginning for the next generation to take it further from us elders and keeping the younger ones interested, so they can pass onto their children and their future children.

Check out the Georgina collection here

Imagery by Katie Fergus

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Article by Dinushka Gunasekara

Notorious for turning a random encounter into a three-hour conversation and running across streets to pat a dog, Dinu is a curious girl who loves a good story. Her extensive knowledge of Donald Glover is yet to come to good use and she would do basically anything for a hash brown. Catch her bombarding her friends with articles she thinks they should read or spending way too much time creating the perfect playlist.

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