For Wonnarua woman Amanda Healy and Yolngu woman Liandra Gaykamangu, creating clothes has a significant connection to Country.

Travelling to Ursluines Mechelen Fashion School in Mechelen, Belgium they were able to share how they create clothes which do their Aboriginal heritage proud.

Alongside Healy, Gaykamangu shared with the students the reason she does not use Indigenous art as print in her designs.

“I actively don’t do traditional art because for me, it’s very sacred,” she said.

“And until it feels right, this is where it goes beyond selling a product, it’s about doing justice to our culture, our family and people in general.

“And so for me it takes a lot of consultations with family members before I can put artwork on print.

“So what I do instead is a very contemporary take on it, and I draw my prints and then I build a collection based on a theme.”

Gaykamangu said to the students her brand has been created consciously, with Indigenous Australia in mind.

“I use my pieces as a way to have those conversations and to advocate and be proud,” she said.

“And whoever’s wearing them to be advocating and be proud of Indigenous Australia as well.

“I like to make it very clear that my brand is definitely for everybody because I want lots of people to feel that they can connect, learn about and be speaking to the world when they put my pieces on.”

Noongar woman and model Shannon McGuire also spoke with the students about her start in modelling almost 20 years ago.

“Back then in Australia, especially for an Aboriginal woman, to be on a catwalk was actually really rare,” she said.

“Being a model was something I wanted to be a part of but never really had the confidence to be a part of because anyone I saw in the magazine was a white girl, blonde hair, blue eyes.

“I didn’t fit their brand and what they thought was Australian, even though my heritage went back 50,000 years before they had even come to Australia.

Model Shannon McGuire helps fashion students with fittings. Photo: Rob Hookey

McGuire said fashion and modelling became a place for her to tell her story.

“Having a place to be able to tell our stories, is really really important and fashion provides that for us,” she said.

“As artists, you’re using art to tell your story, to talk about who you are and what’s important to you.

“So the same goes for these designers and for us as models as well that get to wear them, we get to share the stories about people.”

Fashion director of teaching at the school Catherine Van den Bossche said the group sharing their cultural history will have impacted the students immensely.

“[The students] design from a very personal story as well. They put themselves in the collection,” she said.

“On a societal level, they’re trying to mix that in with the trends and their personality into a new kind of collection in their second year.

“A lot of these students will tap into their personal stories but also stories in society to create their own collection.”

The fashion students will be wearing the designs of Kirrkin, Liandra Swim, MAARA Collective and Ngali at the Indigenous Fashion Event on May 17.