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8 Indigenous Australian Models Transforming Global Fashion

The fashion industry, while progressing in many ways, still needs to further embrace inclusivity. A notable gap has been the underrepresentation of Australia’s First Nations talents. The vibrant Indigenous community in Australia boasts extraordinary talent, waiting for the global spotlight. 

Here’s a glimpse of 8 trailblazing Indigenous talents who are not just reshaping the fashion narrative but are also proud torchbearers of their heritage.

Charlee Fraser

Stepping onto the New York Fashion Week stage in 2016, Charlee quickly ascended to global fame, gracing the runways of high-calibre brands such as Dior, Prada, Balenciaga, and Alexander Wang, among others.

With her rich Awabakal Australian roots, Charlee champions inclusivity in the modelling realm, consistently advocating for positive change.

Her dedication was recognized in 2020 when she was appointed as an ambassador and industry mentor for First Nation Fashion and Design, an esteemed organization committed to uplifting Indigenous talent. Further cementing her impact, Marie Claire honoured her as one of the standout women of 2021.

Instagram: @charleefraser

Samantha Harris

In the world of modelling, the name Sam Harris resonates deeply. Capturing attention early on by clinching the Girlfriend Magazine Covergirl title at just 13, Sam’s trajectory has been nothing short of remarkable.

By 2010, she made waves at the Australian Fashion Week, participating in an unprecedented number of shows. By 18, she added another accolade to her portfolio as only the second Indigenous model to be featured on Vogue’s coveted cover. 

Rooted in her Dunghutti lineage, through her mother, Sam wears her Indigenous pride on her sleeve, continuously advocating for the magnification of Aboriginal cultural appreciation. 2021 saw her illuminating the runway for Indii Swimwear and taking a prominent seat at the First Nations showcases during the Australian Fashion Week on Gadigal lands.

Beyond the ramp, her commitment to conservation shines as she collaborates with the World Wildlife Fund, supporting numerous Indigenous female rangers in safeguarding Australia’s treasured landscapes.

Instagram: @sam_harris

Cindy Rostron

Emerging from the rich tapestry of the Rembarrnga Dalabon lineage, Cindy Rostron represents the Bonngu clan with grace and pride. First Nations Fashion + Design recognized her undeniable potential in June 2021, leading her to grace the Barungra Festival’s runway.

Gaining valuable insights under the guidance of Magnolia Maymuru, Cindy’s youthful energy at just 16 was soon captured by the clothing label, North. Their commitment to elevating Australian designers prominently showcased a spectrum of Indigenous brilliance, with Cindy right at the heart.

As she embarks on this promising journey, all signs indicate that Cindy’s impact will only magnify in the fashion world.

Instagram: @cindyrostron7

Shaneiva Chatfield

Representing the rich heritage of the Gamilaroi community, Shaneiva brilliantly melds her skills as an artist with her modelling career. Her artistry sheds light on the challenges faced by her community, prompting broader dialogues on these pressing issues.

In the modelling realm, Shaneiva has collaborated with leading Australian brands like MIMCO and Nivea. Her standout moment came in 2021 when she graced the Australian Fashion Week runway, specifically highlighting the First Nations Fashion + Design show.

Instagram: @shaneivaa 

Billie-Jean Hamlet

Hailing from the Aboriginal community of Ngurturwarta in Western Australia’s Kimberly region, Billie-Jean now calls Bondi home. She’s been the face of prominent Australian fashion labels including Bec + Bridge, SIR The Label, and Country Road.

Embodying a grounded lifestyle with a commitment to wellness, she’s recently been recognized as an ambassador for Wanderlust Wellness, a brand known for its organic supplements advocating holistic well-being.

Instagram: @billiejeanhamlet

Sarsha Chisholm

After headlining Myer’s Spring/Summer Campaign in 2020, Sarsha marked her unmistakable presence in the modelling arena. Subsequent collaborations with brands like Kmart, Bondi Sands, and Rove further spotlighted her rising star.

In a conversation with Perth Now, she voiced her pride in magnifying her deep-rooted heritage through her profession, aspiring to pave the way for future Indigenous models.

Instagram: @sarshachisholm_ 

Magnolia Maymuru

Emerging from Yirrkala in the Northern Territory, Magnolia Maymuru, a distinguished Yolŋu woman, transitioned seamlessly from modelling to acting. Discovered in her teens in 2014, she made history at 19 by becoming the first Aboriginal woman from the NT to grace the Miss World Australia beauty pageant, subsequently advancing to the national finals, amplifying Indigenous visibility.

By 2019, she clinched the Best Supporting Actress accolade at the 9th AACTA Awards for her captivating role in “The Nightingale”. More recently, Magnolia became the face of David Jones’ #WeWearAustralian campaign, championing local talent.

Instagram: @_mewuraa_ 

Lisa Fatnowna

Lisa’s rapid ascent in the fashion world is evident from her trio of appearances at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week and collaborations with prominent brands like MECCA, Bec + Bridge, and Sportsgirl. Her runway debut took place at the First Nations Fashion + Design’s inaugural show in Cairns, in 2020.

She continued her association, gracing the stage again at the 2021 Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, eventually advancing to a mentor for their BRISFEST showcase.

Moreover, Lisa’s commitment extends beyond the runway: she’s a devoted ambassador and guide for the ‘Aspire to be Deadly’ initiative, fostering education, well-being, and leadership among young Indigenous women across various regions via hockey.

Instagram: @lisa.fatnowna

These vibrant faces and compelling narratives are more than just a testament to talent; they’re an embodiment of Indigenous Australia’s rich heritage and future potential. 

If you or someone you know resonates with these stories and has the passion to shape the world of fashion, we invite you to join this transformative journey. 

Share this with the next potential Indigenous trailblazer and encourage them to step into the limelight.  Let’s collectively celebrate and uplift the voices that deserve the global stage.

HUNTER TALENT

04/17/2024

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