Supporting Indigenous Talent in the Fashion Industry. Empowering Indigenous Fashion: The Iconic x FNFD Incubator Program
In a groundbreaking move for the fashion industry, online retailer The Iconic teamed up with First Nations Fashion + Design (FNFD) nine months ago to launch an incubator program aimed at fostering Indigenous talent in fashion design. This initiative marks a significant step towards amplifying First Nations voices and perspectives on both local and international fashion stages.
Three exceptional brands were selected for the program through a rigorous panel process, which included prominent figures such as Grace Lillian Lee, Elaine George, Johnny Schembri, and Yatu Widders Hunt. The chosen designers—Elverina Johnson of Pink Fish, Glenda McCulloch, Jaunita Doyle, Dale Bruce, and Cheryl Perez of Myrrdah, and Briana Enoch of Jarawee—were given the opportunity to co-design capsules with The Iconic, a move aimed at economically empowering Indigenous entrepreneurs while providing them with tangible pathways for business growth.
Now, shoppers can explore a diverse range of designs on The Iconic’s platform, each reflecting the unique cultural heritage and artistic vision of the designers. From Elverina Johnson’s vibrant swing dresses adorned with motifs from the Great Barrier Reef to Briana Enoch’s ethereal satin trousers inspired by saltwater abstractions, the collections offer a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Indigenous creativity.
For the designers, the experience has been transformative. Elverina Johnson reflects on the valuable lessons learned and the collaborative spirit fostered through the program, emphasizing the support received from industry professionals. Briana Enoch expresses her joy at seeing her label showcased online, highlighting the significance of making Indigenous fashion accessible to a broader audience.
For the Cungelella Art collective behind Myrrdah, participating in the incubator program represents a rare opportunity to break through the barriers of a traditionally exclusive industry. Despite the challenges posed by their rural location, the designers are grateful for the chance to be part of the fashion world’s glitz and glamour, showcasing their unique perspectives and artistic talents.
Looking ahead, all three designers are committed to continuing their journey in fashion, drawing inspiration from their cultural heritage and personal experiences. Elverina Johnson and Briana Enoch emphasize the importance of storytelling and connection in their designs, hoping to inspire others to learn more about First Nations culture. Meanwhile, Perez, McCulloch, Bruce, and Doyle emphasize the timeless nature of their creations, rooted in the traditions of handmade craftsmanship and inspired by the beauty of the natural world.
As the program comes to a close, it’s clear that this is just the beginning of a new chapter in Indigenous fashion. With initiatives like The Iconic x FNFD Incubator Program paving the way, the fashion industry is gradually becoming more inclusive, diverse, and representative of Indigenous voices. As consumers, we have the power to support this positive change by embracing and celebrating Indigenous creativity in fashion.
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