Queensland-based brand Red Ridge the Label is bridging a gap between clothing and culture, shining a spotlight on central western Queensland Aboriginal artists.
The women’s clothing and accessories label is an initiative of Outback Queensland arts organisation Red Ridge Interior Queensland – a not-for-profit company that promotes the social and economic development of the Aboriginal communities of remote western Queensland through expression and preservation of their arts and culture.
Red Ridge Interior Queensland manager Louise Campbell says the goal for Red Ridge the Label is to involve artists from different regions within the Red Ridge area, which covers 15 areas from Mt Isa to Thargomindah, to contribute to a new collection.
“We’re passionate about ensuring authenticity throughout all areas of the label, which includes having garments and accessories made locally,” she says.
The debut collection Diamantina highlights artwork from Wangkanguru and Yarluyandi women Aulpunda ‘Jean’ Barr-Crombie and Anpanuwa ‘Joyce’ Crombie from Birdsville.
The artists, also known as Two Sisters Talking, bring the culture of their country alive in their art, painting a deep love of the country from river to desert.
Red Ridge the Label’s first collection is named after the region where the artists grew up and features two compelling silk prints interpreted in natural fibre garments.
Speaking to the significance of the collection, Joyce Crombie says “we come from around Birdsville, which is right in the Diamantina, so this collection is a good opportunity for people to see where we come from.”
“All of our artwork is based around country and Birdsville, and how the people lived years ago from what our mother taught us. We are so passionate about our country,” she says.
“Mum and dad shared the stories [from the artwork] and this is our way of teaching the younger generation. They learn from us. Our language is our art,” says Jean Barr-Crombie.
“To have these stories on different materials, and even a catwalk, means so much to us. We are telling our stories through our artwork and these dresses – that is a first for us.
“If we don’t pass our culture on to our young ones, we will lose it,” she says.
To assist in delivering the debut collection, Red Ridge the Label worked with experienced Brisbane-based designer Laura Gangemi to design the range of sustainable garments that were then constructed by makers connected with Red Ridge Interior Queensland.
The Diamantina collection features six womenswear styles, as well as scarves and keyrings featuring the artists’ prints and other accessories including woven bags and natural stone beaded necklaces and bracelets.
The garments and accessories are ethically made in and around Blackall, central Queensland through the Red Ridge network, with a small team in Brisbane assisting with production.
Find out more and shop Red Ridge the Label‘s garments here.