What’s wrong with the ‘real thing’, asks designer
Authentic Australian-made and designed garments are being bumped out of retail outlets and resorts to make way for cheap ‘Australiana’ items imported from overseas, according to an Indigenous fashion designer.
Shaun Edwards, co-founder of the Wild Barra fashion label, said it was disappointing not to be supported by retailers in his own country.
“We’ve missed out on gift shops around Australia and Uluru, which is disheartening,” Mr Edwards said. “We’re not supported in our own country.
“You’re trying to do something in your own right and also promote your own culture in Australia and you cannot get into the stores.
“We had a gift shop here in Cairns, we have a new aquarium, and my stuff is all based around the ocean and the country … and they said it didn’t suit their gift shop, so they are outsourcing from other brands outside of Australia.
“Here I am in Cairns and my product has been running for four years and we’re able to supply, but we can’t get picked up by local Australian gift shops.”
Despite the setbacks, Mr Edwards is about to release his new collection for summer 2017-18.
The artist-turned-designer has added freshwater catfish, taipans, barn owls, emus and white cockatoos to his aesthetic palette.
Frilled-neck lizards and dingo motifs are currently the most popular in Wild Barra’s men’s swimwear line, while women’s active wear carries striking prints of barramundi scales, black cockatoos, monkey nuts and wild ginger.
Mr Edwards co-founded the label four years ago with Budgy Smuggler owner and friend Adam Linforth.
A Kokoberrin man from Cape York, Mr Edwards said he liked to include Australian animals in his designs, particularly the dingo.
“To put those animals to the forefront of people’s minds as animals of Australia — and some of them are actually threatened,” he said. “We need to keep them on the radar and think about preserving our animals.
“I’ve got a real weakness for dingoes. I don’t think we treat our dingoes very well in Australia. I’m going with the whole dingo theme just to get people to put the dingo on their body instead of a wolf.
“I mean wolves are going through mayhem as well, but in Australia we have the dingo.”
Mr Edwards’ fresh fashion line-up will hit the runway in a free show at the Tanks Arts Centre in Cairns on October 8 as part of the Tropical Pride Festival program.
Thirty models will showcase Wild Barra’s new swimwear for men and women, shirts, pants, dresses and tops.