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First Nations fashion designer calls for more regional training opportunities

  • March 19, 2023

Lillardia Briggs-Houston is carving out a career in fashion with her “lifeblood” as her muse. 

Creating Indigenous-inspired clothes on country in Narrandera, in southern NSW, the Wiradjuri, Gangulu and Yorta Yorta woman started her own label in 2019.

“I’ll start with inspiration from country and adapt that into a carving, and then transfer that to a silk-screen,” she said.

“It’s a long artistic process that I go through but it always starts with some sort of memory from country and adapting that into a practice that would have been used by old people back in the day.”

A model wears long earrings and a black and white patterned top, in the sun, with a bare landscape behind her
The inspiration for the fashion comes from country in Narrandera.(Supplied: Marley Morgan Photography)

Training in the regions

Ms Briggs-Houston makes a roughly 400-kilometre round trip to Wodonga’s TAFE to study clothing production, and would like to see the course offered more widely.

“You’ve got a lot of mob from Wagga, Narrandera, Griffith, Hay, Hillston … they have no access to resources, they don’t even have the opportunity to go and study it if they choose to,” she said.

“Mob don’t want to have to leave country. This is our lifeblood.

“We want to stay on country, we want to build on country, but we can’t access the resources to be able to do so.

“There’s a huge responsibility for institutes to also up their game and invest in rural and regional communities.”

Wodonga TAFE fashion teacher Deidre Brown said her campus was the only regional location that offered a Certificate III in Clothing and Textile Production, and a Certificate IV in Clothing Production.

“Primarily what we teach students is the process of how we design, make, create and produce garments for the clothing industry at the moment,” Ms Brown said.

“They do a bit of design work where they

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