Jessica Mauboy, on How Much We Can Learn From Aboriginal Culture Through Fashion

Instagram / @jessicamauboy

Diversity of culture in art is so important, and one space that we need to see more of it is in the fashion industry.

While we are definitely on a journey of progression —with indigenous designers being invited to show their collections on the Indigenous Fashion Project Runway at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week for the second consecutive year — we still have so much to learn, and that will only come with time.

With change also comes the need for changemakers.

Singer, songwriter and all-around Indigenous queen, Jessica Mauboy, announced her role as Community Ambassador for the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAFF) a month ago, and her support for aboriginal art and artists simply oozes out of her.

One of the warmest spirits with undeniable love and connection to her culture, Mauboy is playing an integral role in creating awareness for Aboriginal artists and designers in fashion.

“I’m still speechless that DAAFF wanted me to be their community ambassador. When the opportunity came I jumped on it straight away,” Jessica Mauboy tells POPSUGAR Australia.

“There’s just such huge importance in supporting the creativity of Indigenous people and, having grown up in the Northern Territory, I understand how incredible the talent is. I just couldn’t deny this path for me” she continues.

“There are so many stories of connection, culture, and language that are ready to be told. What we know of indigenous culture is already so important, but there’s so much more we can learn from it and taking this role for me to bring awareness is just so rewarding. It’s all happening around me and it’s beautiful to see and support; I feel like I’m just along for the ride!”

Chatting to Mauboy on the phone, we both agreed that we’re so lucky to be alive right now — in an era that welcomes change. Being able to wear clothes by Aboriginal designers and to celebrate the culture in a physical, artistic and deeply personal way — on our bodies — is truly something to be celebrated.

“Wearing clothes by Aboriginal designers excites me!” Mauboy says.

“I grew up watching artists paint in the streets of Darwin, in arcades and local art centres. This reality has already existed in my dreams, in the teachings since I was a child, and now I’m seeing it physically and visually more prominently and it just feels like it’s meant to be.”

“We still have growth to do, but I can see Aboriginal art in all its forms — design, art, fashion — in commercial shopping centres in the future, just continuing to grow and be embraced. It just takes time. Everything takes time. There needs to be a process of understanding and education before we can properly progress.

“It’s just amazing that we’re in that transition now and that we get to be the shoulders that support them and carry them through.”

And as for Aboriginal representation in fashion? It’s still new and it’s so massively important.

“We want to create a space of sharing, a safe space to express and be heard,” says Mauboy, of the upcoming Indigenous Fashion Project Runway at AAFW next week.

“When you create a space like that, you can feel it; but it takes time. As much as we want to push and rush things, we know deeply that it takes time. It’s all about supporting, creating and sharing their stories; to be represented in the right light and fully appreciated.”

The Indigenous Fashion Project Runway show, will be brought by six Aboriginal fashion designers and a live performance from Mauboy herself, it’s a step in the right direction of creating that safe space for Indigenous representation in the Australian fashion industry.

As for Mauboy’s new single — Automatic that she’ll be performing at the runway show, it’s an anthem for self-belief, liberation and trusting your intuition to lead you on the right path and honestly, it’s everything we need to hear into right now.

“I think life is all about taking control of what you know and being able to handle it so that you can let go and enjoy the ride. It’s so important that we learn to take care of ourselves because that gives us the clarity and self-belief we need to thrive in this world.”

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