Australian Aboriginal textiles: Value beyond fashion

Australian Aboriginal textiles: Value beyond fashion Journal Article


  • Author(s): Ruben, Bobbie, McDonald, Malcolm, Naylor, Stephen
  • Published: 2021
  • Publisher: Routledge
  • ISBN: 1475-9756

Abstract: Screen-printed textiles from Aboriginal art centers are more than just commercial products. Closely connected with Aboriginal 'ways of being,' they carry profound and often ancient stories from the world's oldest continuous culture and offer consumers a glimpse into a different world. Their creation supports remote livelihoods and culturally affirming practises which contribute to social and emotional wellbeing. But as this paper shows, the recent enthusiasm for Aboriginal textiles in the fashion industry pits the enduring cultural narratives embodied in the textiles against the transient and unpredictable forces of the fashion market. There have been many positive translations to fashion; however, the accessible and reproducible aspects of cloth render a vulnerability to exploitation in the mass fashion world. It is now time for all parties to establish transparent business principles and a clear code of ethics to guide commercial partnerships and guarantee artist control over their ancestral heritage. Fashion displays and promotes Indigenous cultural heritage in a unique way, but for these textiles, there are a range of alternative iterations that portray a timelessness beyond fashion.

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Suggested Citation
Ruben, Bobbie, McDonald, Malcolm, Naylor, Stephen, 2021, Australian Aboriginal textiles: Value beyond fashion, Journal Article, viewed 15 June 2024,

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