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Voice Merch by Aboriginal Designers and Fashion Labels

  • October 6, 2023

On October 14, Australians will vote in a referendum to enshrine recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution. If the vote goes through, an advisory group of Indigenous representatives will be established to give independent advice to parliament and government on matters relating to First Nations people.

In the lead up to the vote, a number of Aboriginal-owned organisations – from fashion labels to jewellers – have released merch that not only allows you to wear your vote on your sleeve, but can help spark important conversations around the Voice.

The upcoming referendum, and the Uluru Statement From the Heart (which first proposed a First Nations Voice in the Constitution), has inspired many First Nations artists and designers to both explore the moment through their practice and create works that amplify their message and perspective.

For its 2023 fashion collection, Yarrabah Arts & Cultural Precinct in Queensland used words from the statement on its graphic hand-stitched designs.

A new painting by Reko Rennie, YESMOTHERFUCKERSYES, combines the original “Yes” font used in the 1967 referendum with the artist’s signature “Aboriginal camouflage”. The acclaimed contemporary artist has long explored his Kamilroi heritage, Aboriginal identity and issues faced by lndigenous communities in his works. This striking, primary-coloured piece will be on show at Rennie’s upcoming exhibition, Remix, at Station Gallery in Melbourne.

The 1967 referendum, where Australians voted overwhelmingly to change the Constitution to officially count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as part of the population, similarly saw Aboriginal communities using fashion to share their message and spark discussion. First Nations slogan shirts, first worn in the 1970s, continue to be worn by both “yes” and “no” advocates during this campaign.

“It’s imperative to note that Mob merch with a message – you could call it

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