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Indigenous models take part in Melbourne Fashion Festival

16 March 20182 comments

Last week saw aspiring models from indigenous communities in Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada participate in the Global Indigenous Runway 2018 at Melbourne Museum, part of Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival.

The group of over 50 models spent a week in Melbourne, where they gained industry training from the team at Global Indigenous Management.

Tina Waru, founder and CEO of Global Indigenous Management, started the organisation eight years ago, having worked in the fashion industry for many years and noticed the absence of indigenous models.

Her aim was to develop an organisation to empower indigenous people with confidence, motivation and pride, the very qualities she lacked as a young woman from a Maori background breaking into the fashion industry.

Tina has worked tirelessly over the past eight years to create a platform for people who may lack the opportunity and the confidence to achieve their goals.

“There is so much creativity in indigenous communities, but it can often be very difficult for indigenous communities to break into creative industries such as fashion. It is also a very good opportunity to connect indigenous communities where they can support each another and share their experiences”, Tina said.

Barbetha Nona (pictured third from left) is an aspiring model from Torres Strait Island and is taking part in a fashion show for the first time. This is also her first time to leave Torres Strait Island and come to the Australian mainland. The Torres Strait Island community helped fundraise to allow Barbetha and her mother to travel to Melbourne to be a part of the fashion show. “This is my first time taking part in a fashion show and my first time to travel from Torres Island. It has been a great experience and I am excited to be a part of the show”, said Barbetha.

Treinaya Phillips (pictured fourth from left) is from an aboriginal community in Western Australia. She has never had an opportunity to take part in any fashion events previous to this and is very excited to be a part of Melbourne Fashion Festival.

Tina Waru commented that “many of the models and designers who have been involved previously have gone on to build very successful careers in the fashion industry”.

The models in the photograph are wearing pieces from Maori designer Jeanine Clarkin and her son Noa’s label George. Jeanine has been involved with the Indigenous Runway Project since 2012. “The colours in this collection have strong symbolism in Maori culture, with red representing essence and strength and white for clarity and focus”, said Janine.

AMES Australia has provided support to Global Indigenous Runway by providing the models with space at the Multicultural Hub to practice and prepare for fashion shows. Tina Waru commented “it has been so fantastic to have a venue in the city that our models feel comfortable in and can bring their families along to. As our models are on a journey of confidence building and personal growth it is wonderful to have a safe and supportive environment for them to thrive in”, Tina said.


Annmarie Power
AMES Australia Staff Writer