When Denni Francisco launched Ngali in 2018, she asked herself, ‘does the world really need another fashion brand?’ This led her to find the compelling “why” for taking this step.
'For me, it was how I could support our First Nations artists, connect more with my culture, spend more time on Country and contribute to our communities.'
This desire to connect with her community led Denni to artist Lindsay Malay whom she met at the 2018 Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair. Drawn to his artworks, his story and his connection to his Country led to a sharing of her vision for Ngali. ‘We yarned about what I was hoping to achieve, and he immediately connected with the vision I had.’
Going out on Country with Lindsay and his family after Darwin was a special way to start this collaboration which would lead to the unique Ngali prints seen on today’s runway.
At Ngali, the artwork is translated for the fabric prints very respectfully and in collaboration with the artists, understanding that the story behind the artwork is the artist’s own reflections.
'Our garments are about sharing and celebrating our culture and people have responded to that.'
‘Customers like how the garments look and feel, but they also embrace the story of the art and the artists and what Ngali is working to achieve.’ Denni says.
'Our tag line is, “Together we create”. We’re all about collaboration and connectedness , with our artists, communities, fabric suppliers, manufacturers, and of course, our customers.'
Collaboration for mutual benefit is why buying locally and being conscious about what you buy is so important. It’s about the connection and experience you gain through that process. Supporting small and local businesses makes a significant difference.
Ngali’s artists receive royalties through their work and as part of the B1G1 program. Financial support is provided to help children living in remote areas to enhance their literacy and skills. It’s also important for Denni to operate as a sustainable business, focusing on high-quality fabric to ensure products last and can be upcycled and passed on.
When people buy from Ngali, these pieces come with the knowledge that it means something. It’s very much about conscious consumerism.
When you buy local, you get to know more about the people and the principles behind the business and the brand. It then becomes way more than a simple financial transaction.
For the first time in its 26-year history, First Nations fashion designers made history with 2 separate all-First Nations runway shows and the Australia Fashion Show, allowing all-Indigenous fashion to take centre stage.
It was a momentous occasion to show Australia and the world that First Nations designers do have a place in the fashion industry, with these shows setting the standard for what will come in the future.