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Deadly Threads

HOUSE OF DARWIN has taken the Top End by storm, their bright tees and funky prints featuring traditional Aboriginal language popping up all over the place.

But purchasing these goods go further than putting en vogue threads on your back and prints on your wall – or more recently, Budgy Smugglers, well, you know where – with all profits reinvested into social programs in remote Indigenous communities.

Larrakia man, former AFL footballer and AIME Mentor – but current all ‘round good bloke – Shauny Edwards is behind the social enterprise, and says it’s his love for his home that inspired the project.

“I was born and raised in Darwin, spending most of my childhood in Mandorah with my grandparents. Mum lived in Gunbalanya, so I guess you could say I bounced back and forth between the three,” he says.

“After living in Melbourne and Sydney for a few years playing AFL, I moved to Los Angeles – I had a few things I wanted to do post-footy and I’m not really sure why but living in LA was one of them [laughs]. I started making Territory-inspired garments when I was homesick. I’d make these croc-themed shirts and rugs, and give them as gifts.

“When I moved back to Australia, Darwin in particular, I got a fellowship from my old school. They gave me a small proportion of money, so I got thinking about how I could make it into something bigger. And that’s where House of Darwin was born.”

When trying to come up with a name, Edwards consulted his at-the-time LA housey, famous designer of Ksubi, Dan Single.

“It’s pretty funny actually. I was kind of just driving around telling him about my vision and was like, ‘I’ve met all these people from around the world but I don’t know how to bring them back to my community?’ and he was like, ‘well, you house them!’, so that’s how it started.”

Despite only launching in June, profits generated through sales from the Arnhem Land range recently saw Edwards embark on a month-long trip to the region to facilitate AFL workshops with his mate Tylah Saunders.

“We raised about 20 grand and took brand-new sporting equipment out to the homelands across East Arnhem Land. It was just, from my childhood, seeing how far you can be from an opportunity – it was a way for me to pass on my skills from AFL footy and trying to lift the professionalism in these remote communities,” he says.

“Off the back of the Alice Springs range, we’ll donate some money back to a women’s centre in Mutitjulu. That’s sort of the model we’re going down.”

The nostalgic, chilled-out vibes of House of Darwin’s designs are the work of AIME Resident Artist, LUNA TUNES.

“Liam has become a great mate of mine. It’s like a modern-day love story – we met on Instagram [laughs]. He was doing a design for a friend and I reached out to him to draw a crocodile, and he did it free of charge because it was going to a community spirit event. Now we’ve got this beautiful partnership – I provide him with some sort of poetic text about a region and he spits back an illustration. He nails it!”

When asked where his sense of community spirit comes from, Edwards doesn’t hesitate in his response.

“My grandparents, Jackie and Stem. My granddad broke his neck in a rugby game, and I think his strong spirit, despite the circumstances he was dealt as a 30-year-old father of three, really influenced me. My grandmother’s still by his side to this day. I can definitely attribute my sense of community spirit to them!”

Perhaps this year, when considering what to get your loved ones for Christmas, a gift with a side of community spirit should be top of your list.


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