Words by Chloe Sutherland
The Black Lives Matter movement has encouraged non-BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour), like myself, to take a step back and self-educate on what I can personally contribute to the movement and how to become an ally. Along with self-educating, protesting, signing petitions, donating to charities, and speaking out in moments of injustice, a small yet positive notion we can all contribute to is celebrating and supporting BIPOC owned and run businesses.
As a consumer, it’s incredibly important to recognise where and whom our money is going to, and how our powerful position as a consumer can affect small businesses. As someone who loves fashion and beauty, I recognise that my dollar, can make a difference when it comes to spotlighting Australian BIPOC businesses. This may be a small act in the big picture, however, supporting BIPOC business shows solidarity and puts money directly into the pockets of some amazing, creative, and diverse entrepreneurs.
Therefore, I have rounded up a list of some Australian fashion and beauty brands that support BIPOC communities.
Clothing the Gap
Clothing The Gap is a Victorian Aboriginal owned and led social enterprise, using the play on words "Closing the Gap", which is an Australian Government health initiative to help close the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal people and non-Indigenous Australians. 100% of the profits actively support Aboriginal health promotion and education programs throughout Victoria. Clothing the Gap sells unisex apparel whilst also contributing to the conversation through a wealth of resources that customers can use to self-educate. Their mission statement reads “We make our pieces for everybody to wear and celebrate! Purchasing and wearing merchandise such as jewellery, clothing and tote bags from Aboriginal businesses is one really practical way allies can support the Indigenous Community.” With a wide range of apparel to choose from, purchasing a piece is an effective way to show your support.
Liandra Swim fuses signature prints inspired by Aboriginal Australian Culture with on-trend premium designer swimwear. In particular, they are making it their social mission to change the way Indigenous Australian women are viewed and celebrated. Liandra Swim is a company 100% owned by Liandra Gaykamangu, a Yolngu woman from North-East Arnhem. Better yet, Liandra Swim is now evolving into a sustainable brand, with their latest collection utilising fabrics that are made from regenerated plastics, and packaging that is made from cassava, which is non-toxic and can safely biodegrade within months. These unique pieces are easily interchangeable with each other and would be a perfect addition coming into the warmer months.
Gammin Threads is owned by Tahnee Edwards, a proud descendant of the Yorta Yorta, Taungurung, Boonwurrung & Mutti Mutti nations. Gammin Threads is Edwards’ ‘side hustle’ and creative outlet from her full-time job at an Aboriginal family violence prevention service. The unisex clothing line consists of colourful everyday tees for people who want to be wearing stylish clothes whilst also paying respect and empowering women. Some of the tees sold by Gammin Threads are intended to be worn by the BIPOC community, and Edwards’ has addressed the subject of whether white allies are welcome to wear her designs on her site, the short answer is yes but with some exceptions! Brighten up your outfit with one of these statement tees to create an effortless look, whilst also supporting Indigenous culture.
Ginny’s Girl Gang
Ginny’s Girl Gang is a collection of custom hand painted denim, designed and painted by the talented artist Regina Jones. Jones is now based in the US, although she grew up in Brisbane around her Indigenous culture. A proud Gamilaraay nations woman, Jones brings awareness to Indigenous culture and issues through her one of a kind denim pieces. Each piece takes 20-40 hours to make, with Jones taking occasional custom orders as well. Recently, Jones auctioned a jacket to raise funds for Sisters Inside, a non-profit that provides aid to criminalized women and girls and ended up raising an impressive $1400. A custom piece from Ginny’s Girl Gang would be such a worthy wardrobe investment.
Arkie The Label
Arkie The Label is a textile and fine art label, designed by Brisbane based Kalkadoon Bidjara woman, Arkie Barton. The aim of Arkie the label, is to use contemporary Indigenous art and fashion to create a platform for expression and education of Aboriginal culture. Arkie The Label sells bright artisanal hand drawn prints and carefully designed pieces that are largely inspired by Arkie's heritage as an Indigenous Australian. Along with the beautiful prints that you are able to purchase or get commissioned, Barton has also created a range of tees and totes that promote positive discussions surrounding indigenous culture. Whether you commission a print or purchase a tote, you will be owning a piece that Barton has designed with love.