Perth fashion: the Indigenous designer turning plastic bottles into clothing

The fashion world may appear to be all about aesthetics but Perth designer TJ Cowlishaw is on a mission to make a more meaningful contribution to the industry.

The Indigenous designer is using dead-stock denim, which could otherwise end up in landfill, and a combination of other sustainable products including a type of polyester made from recycled plastic bottles to create pieces that have won her national and international praise.

 Sustainable and organic fabrics are used in AARLI designs. Photo: Craig Williams

While recent work on her label AARLI has seen her on the set of a photo shoot in California and collaborating with jewellery designers, it was Ms Cowlishaw’s humble beginnings that got her interested in the fashion industry.

“As a young girl, because we didn’t have much money growing up, I learned to appreciate vintage fashion and costume design,” she said.

TJ Cowlishaw is behind the Perth based fashion label Aarli.
TJ Cowlishaw is behind the Perth based fashion label Aarli. Photo: Craig Williams

Ms Cowlishaw, who is currently in talks with Target in regards to possible ways to collaborate, was born in Darwin, she’s a Bardi descendent and also has family links to Chinese pirates.


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