KAFTA 2024: A Growing Platform for Kimberley Creatives

KAFTA 2024: A Growing Platform for Kimberley Creatives

After the success of the Kimberley Aboriginal Fashion Textiles Art Program for 2024, StyleUp spoke with Program Coordinator Belinda Cook about the growth of the event and her vision for its future expansion. KAFTA 2024: A Growing Platform for Kimberley Creatives

KAFTA 2024: A Growing Platform for Kimberley Creatives

A Growing Event

Originally launched as a Broome Fringe Festival event in 2022, the Kimberley Aboriginal Fashion Textiles Art (KAFTA) event returned on June 2, 2024, alongside an industry workshop program and a fashion pop-up. KAFTA has since evolved into a crucial platform for Kimberley designers, artists, and young people to showcase their fashion and textiles to a regional audience.

Recognized as one of Broome’s most popular fashion events, KAFTA continues to attract new creatives, designers, and team members each year. “It’s such a privilege to work alongside so many innovative and impressive creative leaders of the Kimberley,” said Cook. “It’s a growing team of creatives, led by a team of; Michael Torres, founder of BlakLens and a new Kimberley Media Hub; Eunice Yu manager of Nagula Jarndu and significant Yawuru cultural and business leader who ensures we are building transparent and culturally safe spaces as we grow to support the aspirations of Kimberley people in textiles and fashion.”

KAFTA 2024: A Growing Platform for Kimberley Creatives

Diverse Talent

Cook highlighted the diverse talent involved in the 2024 fashion parade and pop-up, each specializing in their own creative niche. “Tara Gower, previously with Bangarra, has established Indigenous dance group Burrb Wanggarragu Nurlu to bring the performative element to the runway; Kartika Christophers, our model and stage manager, ensures models return each year and young people who arrive from community walk with confidence and pride,” Cook explained. “Our community-based coordinators – Aggie Pigram (Bardi region), Bianca Nargoodah (Fitzroy Crossing), and Bianca Long (East Kimberley) support their communities and workshop facilitation on the ground, leading to a significant increase in participation this year.”

Collaborative Growth

Cook emphasized the collaborative approach that has fueled KAFTA’s growth. “It’s the collaborative approach we are taking that is growing KAFTA, and it’s getting better every year,” she said. “Working with so many talented and committed people keeps you invested. We are growing together; everyone is so committed, it’s really inspiring.”

The dedication of this year’s cohort of designers has been particularly inspiring for Cook. “I’m really inspired by the agency taken by our designers to grow their own businesses. Everyone takes it very seriously and works together to support one another,” she noted.

Looking Ahead

Looking to the future, Cook is eager to see KAFTA grow in both size and popularity while ensuring that its vision remains community-driven. “We want to take the time to bring everyone back together to map the coming years. It’s rolled and grown so quickly in just three years, and it’s important that the vision for KAFTA is community-driven,” she said. “In the last days at our business fashion forum, designers and artists expressed a hope for KAFTA to be incorporated and continue to work with Kimberley community-based creatives to grow this industry.”

Cook aims to build a sustainable program that supports designers and artists in developing their skills and capacity, leading to successful businesses based in the Kimberley region. “The industry needs to grow here. Kimberley youth need positive creative pathways that complement the incredible Indigenous-led visual and performing arts industries,” she added. “We want to see industry expertise come to us, and we want Kimberley mob to be recognized nationally for their innovation and leadership in this space.”

The Future of Indigenous Fashion

Aside from the event’s growth, Cook is keen to see an increase in funding and resources for the Indigenous fashion and creative sector. “We feel that KAFTA presents a new model that could be replicated by other regions with their own cultural and creative leaders, building up real pathways for people within their communities and strengthening the Indigenous Fashion Sector,” she said. “I hope there is an injection of funding and resources into this sector for training, infrastructure, and events, which will cement this growing industry. It’s such a brilliant space, and I’m grateful to be part of the journey with the KAFTA team.”

KAFTA 2024: A Growing Platform for Kimberley CreativesWith the continued support of the community and an expanding team of dedicated creatives, the future of KAFTA looks bright, promising to further elevate Kimberley designers and artists on both regional and national stages.

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Source: https://nit.com.au/11-06-2024/11866/kimberley-aboriginal-fashion-textiles-art-program-coordinator-belinda-cook

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