David Jones has announced the six First Nations fashion brands involved in the mentorship program in its Pathways Program.

Established in 2020 in partnership with The Indigenous Fashion Projects, the 12-month Pathways Program is part of the retailer's commitment to supporting diverse design perspectives and ensuring that the future of the Australian fashion industry is inclusive and more representative of Indigenous design and culture. 

The six labels included in the mentorship program are Kirrikin, Ngali (pictured), Liandra Swim, Native Swimwear, Maara Collective and Indii. 

Spearheading the project is David Jones GM of womenswear, footwear and accessories, Bridget Veals, who said that the program's ultimate goal is to support and develop Indigenous labels by listening to what they really need. 

"I am thrilled David Jones can facilitate connections with fashion industry leaders and the First Nation designers.

"Our role in the program is to listen and understand the needs of our First Nations fashion designers and provide support at all stages of the development of a fashion label.

"This next phase in the program provides an opportunity for Indigenous fashion brands to tap into the expertise of leading Australian fashion designers, and have them provide practical experience, insights and advice.

"Over the last twelve months, we have been able to tailor the program mentors to align with what the First Nation designer’s needs, and ultimate goals are, and as a result, provide connections that would be most beneficial," she said. 

The First Nations labels have been partnered with some of Australia's leading brands within the David Jones portfolio and includes Aje, Bassike, Bianca Spender, Bec and Bridge, PE Nation, Kitx and Esse.

Alongside the mentorships in the Pathways Program, First Nations designers are supported with workshops, seminars and networking opportunities. 

"I believe our industry has a responsibility to make space for more mentorship and cultural exchange to support the future success of Indigenous creative talent," Veals added. 

"It broadens our fashion offering and allows for deep storytelling and a greater connection and understanding of cultures," she said. 

The mentorship partnerships are detailed below: 

  • Kirrikin (Amanda Healy) and Aje (Adrian Norris and Edwina Forrest)
  • Ngali (Denni Francisco) and Bassike (Mary Lou Ryan & Deborah Sams)
  • Liandra Swim (Liandra Gaykamangu) and Bianca Spender (Bianca Spender)
  • Native Swimwear (Natalie Cunningham) and Bec and Bridge (Becky Cooper and Bridget Yorston)
  • Maara Collective (Julie Shaw) and Esse (Charlotte Hicks) together with Kitx (Kit Willow)
  • Indii (Nancy Pattison) and P.E.Nation (Pip Edwards and Claire Tregoning)
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