How grassroots creativity fostered Indigenous fashion

Cairns might not be known as a fashion hotspot, but it has been pivotal in growing Indigenous fashion talents.
Indigenous fashion

Many visiting Cairns don’t know that the city is a major hub for Indigenous fashion. The first show dates back to 1991 organised by Adeline Chong, who later envisioned the Regional Indigenous Fashion and Textiles Showcase (RIFTS).

RIFTS was then passed on to be managed by the Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation in 2011, and in 2012, community leaders Bronwyn Singleton and Maria Laxton took it to the next level. They organised the first RIFTS Fashion Show with five Indigenous designers. By its second iteration there were 16 designers. And so grows the story of this sector’s success.

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Celina Lei is an arts writer and editor at ArtsHub. She acquired her M.A in Art, Law and Business in New York with a B.A. in Art History and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne. She has previously worked across global art hubs in Beijing, Hong Kong and New York in both the commercial art sector and art criticism. Most recently she took part in drafting NAVA’s revised Code of Practice - Art Fairs. Celina is based in Naarm/Melbourne.