Sydney/Eora AW22 Indigenous Program Recipient – Deadly Denim

The Finders Keepers is thrilled to welcome Deadly Denim to the lineup as our Sydney/Eora Indigenous Program recipient. Created by Rebecca Barlow, a Ballardong, Whadjuk woman from the Nyungar nation, Deadly Denim is a sustainable fashion label that showcases First Nations artists through textiles. We can’t wait to meet her and encourage you all to check out this debut stall at the Sydney/Eora Market this July.

Learn more about the Deadly Denim story before visiting them in Sydney at The Cutaway, Barangaroo Reserve on 29-31 July!

Photos by Cole Baxter

Can you share the journey of Deadly Denim so far?

 Deadly Denim started in 2018 when an Aunty and I enrolled in Curtin University’s Ignition program for “entrepreneurs”. It was a one-week intensive and great help and insight before launching the label the following month. From there, I launched a small range of 20 recycled denim jackets at CinefestOz in Busselton, WA. I had amazing feedback on the jackets, which encouraged me to keep going. Next, I had a stall at the Falls Festival in Tasmania and opened an Etsy shop to sell our one-off pieces. Last year Deadly Denim showcased at New York Fashion Week with Flying Solo collaborating with First Nations artists Mikayla King, Ngalang Moort, Cungelellla Art, Kiya Watt and Bobbi Lockyer. I also collaborated with Bobbi on a collection for Paris Fashion Week inspired by our shared love of ’70s florals.

I grew up with a mum who did a lot of sewing, including all our curtains and cushions and most of our clothes growing up. I never had the patience to learn from her when I was younger; my favourite thing since my teens has been trawling through op shops and flea markets looking for ’70s fashion and textiles. I always had ideas of what I wanted to do and make with the textiles but didn’t know how to go about it.

To start with, Deadly Denim was an important creative outlet for me. At the time, I was trying to finish a really inflexible degree and had become a single parent; I found working on creative ideas to create the label gave me timeout from those stresses. As the label has grown, collaborations and working in the community delivering workshops and aiming to be sustainable and circular in all I do in the label have become the most important aspects to me.

What are your hopes for the future of Deadly Denim?

As the label evolves I’m always learning, and striving towards adopting a more circular model, I really believe it is the way forward for not only the brand but for the fashion industry as a whole, to design out waste from the beginning to the final product and its life cycle. I’m currently working on a new collection with Nyungar Fashion designer Keira Gentle, we can’t wait to share more about our collaboration with everyone soon. Another big part of Deadly Denim is delivering make-your-own jacket workshops in community, I would love to create a coaster bus as a mobile workshop with solar panels and deliver workshops out on country and take Deadly Denim on a big road trip.

What keeps you inspired and motivated?

As a label, Deadly Denim is inspired by being part of positive change in the fashion industry through recycling textile waste and working towards zero waste practices. Delivering workshops in the community keeps me motivated. I love the power of coming together as a group of women, connecting and doing something creative. It creates a space to forget about outside stresses for those few hours and leave with a piece of work you’re proud of. On a personal level, I love how open-ended the ideas and possibilities are working in a creative industry and the flexibility of running my own business. I’m motivated by collaborating with other First Nation women in fashion/business, meeting young ones coming up in the industry, and supporting them any way I can, sharing opportunities and knowledge.

Being your first Finders Keepers what can market-goers expect to discover at your stall? What are you most excited about? 

You will find a range of our one-off pieces from denim dresses, jeans, Jackets and a range of children’s jackets customised with artwork from various First Nation artists. You will also find our NFP Range, with all profits from this collection going to Rhodanthe Lipsett Indigenous Midwifery Charitable Fund. For this collection, Deadly Denim has joined forces with Leona McGrath, a descendant of the Woopaburra people of the Great Keppel Island and the Kuku Yalanji people of the Far North QLD. Growing up on Gadigal Country, this collection showcases Leona’s artwork on a small range of jackets. I’m excited to be coming over and being a part of Finders Keepers, meeting all of the other makers and hopefully meeting some Deadly Denim supporters in person. Be warned if you drop by the stall. I love to talk!

Connect with Deadly Denim:

The Finders Keepers Sydney/Eora Markets
29-31 July 2022
The Cutaway, Barangaroo

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