This indigenous modeling agency is changing the face of Australian fashion

“You almost feel right at home when doing things together, even at fashion shows or photo shoots,” she continues, noting that, despite advancements, the industry is still dominated by non-native narratives and may seem unknown to some. First Nations peoples. “As our community grows within the industry, there is more relaxation. It’s so good that we can still bring this to a very foreign space.

Drummond addresses the idea that comfort and confidence are always barriers to further involvement of Aboriginal Australians in the fashion industry and that cultural sensitivity is crucial. “You just have to understand that English is neither their mother tongue nor their second language,” she tells the young models who speak one or more of the 120 different Indigenous languages ​​still spoken today (there were 250 in the time of British colonization). “Sometimes it’s their third or fourth language,” she says. “It’s really overwhelming for them and something that really scares them.”

The talent with which she works has overcome such obstacles, with which she supports them. “We were once in Sydney for a shoot and I had to raise one of them. I made sure we took different flights so she got used to flying on her own. But at the airport, I was teaching her to read the departure and arrival signs, making sure she knew which column … For example, ‘This is where your door is. ‘boarding. It’s your boarding time.

Her role is granular in that sense, taking time and a slower approach, rather than pushing young models to go fast and hard as has been the practice of the industry for so long. Instead, she frequently travels to remote communities, building trust and showing budding role models whose connection to country, family, and culture is inextricably linked with their identities that they can leave, but return home. , reversing the traditional trajectory of international track supernovas. She knows that a thriving industry in Australia can support their work here and keep them connected to the culture.

The most rewarding part of her job is watching them flourish. “Although [some may not] speak english well or are not sure they speak this way, can they walk? They can absolutely walk. Can they shoot? They can absolutely bring it to the camera.

She sees only more opportunities for future models, starting with these first Australian fashion week shows. “It’s been a trip to see the native women, where we once were, without having that opportunity, until now where we’re almost at the forefront of Australian fashion; it’s such an exciting feeling.

Named after her great-great-grandmother, Nara Jira Para, of Wuthati Country in Queensland, Jira is now based in Drummond’s Torres Strait home due to Covid-19, although she surrenders in remote communities in parts of the Kimberley, Western Australia, unearthing talent. “To be honest, it’s a utopia,” she said. What about her advice to all First Nations people considering a career in fashion? “Sure, do it. Find a way to do it, even if it means contacting me just for advice.


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About Gail Mena

Gail Mena

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