Indigenous fashion designer Clair Parker is bringing something truly inspiring and empowering the fashion industry.
A Takaringa girl from the Tiwi Islands, Clair Parker aims to empower indigenous communities through ethical sourcing of recycled and locally designed and sourced Tiwi fabrics.
The 26-year-old designer grew up between the Tiwi Islands (Wurrumiyamea) and Darwin, but spent her early 20s in Sydney, studying fashion at the Whitehouse Institute.
Tiwi women produce unique fabric prints and sewn garments in brilliant, bold, timeless designs. Fabrics feature traditional symbols, structures and family and environmental representations that are central to Tiwi culture.
Clair Parker currently creates one-off pieces of eveningwear under the name Clair Helen. These dresses draw on her Tiwi heritage, mixing printed silks created by Tiwi artists with structured and eco-friendly fabrics like recycled neoprene.
Strongly connected to her Tiwi heritage, Clair Parker is aware of the impact that the fashion industry has on the environment. She hopes to inspire other designers to incorporate an understanding of the environment in their work.
She said: “It’d be good if [young designers] had a bit of awareness of the environment. Not necessarily making one off pieces like I do, but just slow it down a bit.”
Clair Parker hopes to create her own fashion label, working with local Tiwi groups to increase indigenous employment, economics and preserve traditional practices.
She currently works directly with not for profit organisation, Bima Wear to incorporate authentic Tiwi culture into her designs. Bima Wear supports the welfare and development of women and girls of the Aboriginal community at Bathurst Island.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea