The National Indigenous Fashion Awards (NIFA), provide a vibrant and exciting platform to celebrate the innovation, diversity and ethical practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and fashion designers, whilst contributing to the capacity building of the sector.
Recognising and showcasing excellence across six categories, the award ceremony is a unique opportunity for the Australian and international fashion community to connect to the world’s oldest living cultures. Find out more about NIFA HERE.
The NIFA 2023 Winners Have Been Announced!
Proudly presented by the Indigenous Fashion Projects and supported by the Northern Territory Government, meet the winners of the National Indigenous Fashion Awards (NIFA) 2023.
These incredible award winners will now receive a range of tailored funding, mentorships and other priceless opportunities through Indigenous Fashion Projects (IFP) and the presenting partners, designed to build their capability and commerciality to thrive and develop their artistic practice.
Community Collaboration Award, supported by Canberra Centre
Winner: Gapuwiyak Culture & Arts X Aly de Groot
This award recognises strong, two-way relationships between First Nations communities and the textile and fashion industry. Where social and economic benefits flow to communities, and where First Nations peoples’ agency in the collaboration process is front and centre. Gapuwiyak Culture & Arts X Aly de Groot will receive five thousand dollars from Canberra Centre.
As part of the collection that secured Gapuwiyak Culture & Arts the Traditional Adornment Award, judges also recognised the artists for their collaboration with Darwin artist and designer Aly de Groot. Working with Aly, the artists took the inspiration from the Donald Thompson photographs into a collaborative workshop to finalise 10 looks that were presented to resounding applause at Country to Couture and Melbourne Fashion Week last year. Bringing designers young and old together, the collection celebrated collaboration and drove economic benefit for the artists’ community.
Wearable Art Award, supported by Robina Town Centre
Winner: Rhonda Sharpe - Yarrenyty Arltere Artists
Recognising a designer for the creation of a single item that demonstrates excellence in design, craft, cultural and artistic expression, Yarrenyty Arltere Artists’ Rhonda Sharpe was selected for her large and abundant dillybag inspired by her great grandmother Old Laddie. Harnessing age-old techniques, Rhonda turned to bush dyed blanket and sheepskin from a discarded artwork to create her piece, with the dillybag’s handle crafted from bush dyed silk stitched with cotton. Stunning emu feathers were shared by another artist who hunted them on Country – just like Old Laddie would generously share the food she would collect in her own dillybag.
Traditional Adornment Award, supported by the Northern Territory Government
Winner: Gapuwiyak Culture & Arts artists
Encouraging the creation of traditional cultural regalia, the Traditional Adornment Award considers the quality of construction, expression of living culture and preservation of Indigenous culture. Master weavers from Gapuwiyak Culture & Arts were selected for a collection of refashioned, upcycled silk, linen and cotton garments that found their roots in the 1930s. Inspired by the first Yolngu fashion depicted in Donald Thompson’s recent repatriated 1930s photographs, the artists revived traditional practices depicted in the photos and timelessly integrated these as contemporary fashion to produce pieces featuring colours from Country, including from berries, roots and leaves traditionally used to colour the fibre art that Yolngu artists are renowned for.
Business Achievement Award, supported by Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation
Winner: Ikuntji Artists
Celebrating the commercial and creative success in textiles and fashion, this year’s Business Achievement Award goes to Ikuntji Artists, who are amongst the first Art Centres in the Western Desert to release its own textile collection, which now adorn various fashion and garment ranges, accessories and textiles. Through continued strategic collaborations, partnerships and projects, Ikuntji designs have been featured on the cover of Vogue and at London Pacific Fashion Week, with the artists releasing their own book Ikuntji Textiles. Telling stories in bright colours and forms, building layers, purposeful brushstrokes and mazes of linework, Ikuntji artists celebrate ceremony, country and culture in their designs and have amassed fans around the world.
Textile Design Award, supported by RMIT
Winner: Rowena Morgan - Nagula Jarndu
For the past 15 years Rowena has been producing hand printed textiles that tell the stories of her Kija ancestry and reflect her connection to Country – specifically the Landsdowne Ranges in East Kimberley. Consulting with her Elders to ensure her work is always culturally accurate, Rowena reflects
the ochre, pindan earth, rocky riverbeds and plant and animal life of the Country in her work. In recent years she has diversified from traditional lino blocks, now incorporating recycled Styrofoam boxes to create printing blocks, carving and burning into the Styrofoam to add linework and texture to her work.
Fashion Designer Award, supported by Country Road
Winner: Lillardia Briggs-Houston
Lillardia has built her label from a small rural community in south-west NSW since 2019 where she works exclusively on Country. Studying fashion at TAFE she was taught by her trained Wiradjuri grandmother from a young age and carries out all of her own pattern drafting, grading, sampling and textile production. She was a nominee for the inaugural 2021 ‘Indigenous designer of the year’ at the Australian Fashion Laureate, dual nominee at the National Indigenous Fashion Awards for three consecutive years and in 2022 won the ‘Wearable art’ category. With her win, Lillardia accesses a 12-month business mentorship with Country Road.