Sometimes it can be confusing navigating the space between allyship and appropriation and we get this question all the time at Clothing The Gaps.
The DMs usually go something like this...
"Hi there, I'm a non-Indigenous person and I really love your products. I want to support Aboriginal people and causes but, don't want to offend anyone or for it to be seen as cultural appropriation. Just wanted to double check before I buy something that it's okay I wear your Aboriginal designs and merch?"
To help navigate this conversation and to stop us repeating ourselves we have made it easier for our supporters and created some Ally Friendly and Mob Only symbols to guide your purchases. These symbols are located in all product descriptions on our website. Read more about what these symbols mean:
Ally Friendly merch is created with our mob in our heart and everyone in mind.
Ally friendly merch is for everyone.
When we see non-Indigenous people wearing our designs, we feel proud that they are repping our merch and culture.
When we see Aboriginal designs in the world, it means Indigenous people are not invisible in the landscape.
Our tees are conversation starters, for example, we have our ‘Free The Flag’ and 'Not The Date To Celebrate' tee. The more tees like this in the world that spark important conversations in different spaces, the better. As an ally and supporter you might find yourself in spaces that the Aboriginal Community may not. This means that you are carrying these conversations and influencing places and people with these messages.
We wear our values on our tees and we are proud that there are other people who share the same values as us. There are so many non-Indigenous allies that truly and genuinely want to make our country better for First Nations peoples.
But, purchasing from Aboriginal brands, businesses and wearing Indigenous designs alone is surface-level allyship. There needs to be more commitment than just buying from Aboriginal brands and businesses.
Wearing Aboriginal design is not dismantling a system that oppresses Indigenous people. Allies need to do more and learn more. Wearing our tees is a great starting point. We have equipped you with our merch and some of the educational content to go with them. We want you to go out in the world, have these important conversations and find ways to do more and support more.
We also like the term and definition of 'accomplice' which takes ally-ship one step further. We encourage you to read this article Where do you fit? Tokenistic, ally – or accomplice? by Summer May Finlay (Yorta Yorta).
Mob Only merch is designed solely Indigenous peoples to wear.
At Clothing The Gap we create merch that is just for First Nations people. When we do, we will clearly state this in the product description. For example, the ‘Shades of Deadly’ slogans are made for mob and mob only. If you don’t understand the use of the lingo (language) on the tee… then it’s probably not for you.
Want to read more: