The Pilbara has a thriving economy built around heavy industry and hard physical work.
But it is also a community that loves fashion and is home to a big number of creative makers and designers, says The Junction Co executive officer Katie Evans.
To celebrate and raise the profile of this under-appreciated industry, The Junction Co is launching the inaugural Pilbara Fashion Festival, which will offer showcases, workshops and displays in a wide range of aspects of the fashion world between 26 March and 29 May, 2021.
It will all fall under the overarching festival theme of “Consumption and Renewal”.
“It’s all about showing the creative industries as part of our economy,” Katie said.
“We have an amazing group of creatives in the Pilbara in various fashion endeavours. We’re aiming to give them a platform to connect to an audience."
“People here want to be on the pulse despite our geographical isolation, and we have people from outside the region bringing their expertise and inspiration. But the main focus of the festival will be on practitioners within the Pilbara sharing their skills.”
Two pinnacle events will provide a focus for all the activity over the two-month period.
The first of these, the Karijini Experience runway, will be a showcase of the work of Indigenous fashion creatives at the spectacular Kalamina Gorge on 9 April, curated by Emma Galatis. This will be followed by an exhibition of the garments at Cossack Art Gallery from 21 April.
The other key event is the Gala Runway which will cap the festival with a celebration of all things Pilbara fashion in Port Hedland on 29 May. This will be an opportunity for makers and designers to show off the work produced during the festival period.
In between these events will be a series of workshops in Hedland, Karratha and other Pilbara towns in things such as screenprinting, pattern making, textile design, ceramic jewellery, textile manipulation and upcycling.
Katie said there would be a strong emphasis on indigenous creatives in the festival.
“That just makes sense in this region,” she said. “The Karijini Showcase in particular is all about accessibility, bringing stories to light through design and making of garments.
“Indigenous art has evolved a lot. There are a lot of individual artists and art centres doing phenomenal things. We’re excited to help grow and develop their skills, it’s central to what we do.”
Events such as the runway showcases will provide opportunities for those who work in the production side of fashion to get involved, including models, make-up artists and technical staff.
To coincide with the festival, the art exhibition “Finding Home” is on at the Courthouse Gallery+Studio in Port Hedland. The exhibition theme is about engaging young people in regional economic development.
“It ties in with nicely with our aim to see fashion as an economic force, as well as a creative outlet,” Katie said. “It shows what is on offer in our region beyond mining.”
The first festival events are only a few weeks away, but it is not too late for fashion operatives and local businesses to get involved.
“We’re keen to hear from any businesses who want to sponsor us and invest in the local fashion industry,” Katie said. “We’re also want to see other local organisations and individuals get involved so we can include more events under the Pilbara Fashion Festival banner.”