DEADLY DENIM was launched at Stackwood in White Gum Valley last week.
The label was the brainchild of Beck Barlow, who saw an opportunity to breathe new life into daggy old denim jackets and waistcoats.
She started doing fashion up-cycling to fund her midwifery study, but it eventually became the genesis for Deadly Denim, a fundraiser to support indigenous people becoming midwives.
All funds raised from the denim sales will go to Rhodanthe Lipsett and the Indigenous Midwifery Trust.
“It will provide and promote culturally safe care, which gives the best start in life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies and their families,” Ms Barlow says.
The gap between the number of indigenous and non-indigenous midwives is rising, according to a speaker at the recent Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives in Adelaide, Ms Barlow says:
“A thousand are needed for parity with non-indigenous midwives; it was only 600 two years ago.”
Pre-loved denim jackets and vests are refashioned with appliqué by Australian artists, predominantly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, to give them a funky new look.
“I started with an indigenous focus, but it got bigger than that,” Ms Barlow says.
Some Deadly Denim pieces feature gorgeous fabric panels made in remote communities, such as Magpie Goose in the Northern Territory.
“I love their fabrics, but they are expensive, so this is a good way to do it,” she says.
Ms Barlow creates other panels from prints by WA artists, including works donated by former Fremantle artist Rebecca Cool.
Now in her 40s, she only got in touch with her Aboriginal roots in recent years.
Her Noongar grandmother was taken into care in the 1920s, and like many of her generation didn’t acknowledge her indigenous heritage, although it was always known about in the family.
“Out of respect for nanna you didn’t talk about it,” Barlow says. “She was Spanish until she passed away.”
Barlow is taking half a tonne of denim on a sales-orientated road trip around Australia for the next year, but you can still purchase her clothes at ww.deadlydenim.com.au
by JENNY D’ANGER