Nathan McGuire, Moama, NSW
Images by Rhys Ripper
Nathan McGuire is a leading light in the Australian fashion industry and a resounding voice for Indigenous equality. As a model, creative, and entrepreneur Nathan has worked with a range of different brands and continues to be an advocate for diversity and inclusion in everything he does. We visited Nathan at his home in Moama on Yorta Yorta country that he shares with his partner Rhys Ripper, and Rhys’s parents Joy and Rip.
“Our place in Moama is a cool 70’s home, with really great details from that decade. While we usually live in Preston, Melbourne, we had to leave the state before lockdowns to continue our work in fashion from Sydney. So every other week my partner and I travel from Moama to the city. What I really love about our space is the earthy tones and the colours we incorporate into our room. There’s lots of light and we particularly love the artworks and pieces from Indigenous artists and elements from my culture (Noongar) and from Rhys’ mob (Yorta Yorta).”
“A lot of pieces in our room have special meaning. There are “tjun tjuns” that my dad made which he uses for dance ceremonies and cultural proceedings, he made me some out on Country back home in Western Australia recently. The art on the walls was done by Yorta Yorta artists from the Moama/Echuca area. We have cushions from Better World Arts who sell cultural homewares which support Indigenous artists.”
“I enjoy the quietness of the country. Having the Murray River so close by to go for long walks in the afternoons has been a real highlight of staying here. There’s so much bushland to explore too. Even the neighbouring towns which are about an hour away have cute cafes for us to have mini getaways.”
I enjoy the quietness of the country. Having the Murray River so close by to go for long walks in the afternoons has been a real highlight of staying here.
“I am a Whadjuk/Ballardong/Yuat Noongar man from Perth. Growing up in a small bush town called Gidgegannup from a young age to being a teen and adult in the city. I’ve been glad to have a strong sense of identity instilled in me since I was born. I’ve always worked within my community from a young age, whether it was through sports or art and design.”
“Being an Aboriginal man has come with frustrations for myself from an educational perspective and general misunderstandings around the sophistication of First Nations cultures. It’s very discouraging the lack of recognition and acknowledgement that Australia has for First Nations peoples. That seems to be changing now, yet there is much more work to be done.”
Being an Aboriginal man has come with frustrations for myself from an educational perspective and general misunderstandings around the sophistication of First Nations cultures.
“Where we are now would not be possible without the fight and strength of our ancestors and Elders. I always try to remember this and the responsibility I have for the younger generations coming up to be our future leaders. I have so much love for my people and community. I always cheer on and support my people and love the success when we have it and try my best to stand by and back those in my community who need that support. It’s important to have grass roots contact with the community to be able to give back and create solid foundational relationships.”
When considering other ways fashion businesses can be more inclusive and sensitive to Indigenous communities, Nathan has always been a strong advocate for change.
“Working in fashion, I try to speak up on ideas around diversity and how brands can create meaningful and genuine change both in their business models and in their core values. Especially from an Indigenous perspective. Being one of only a handful of Indigneous male models in fashion has always been confusing to me, we have had great Indigenous females models (and we need more) however the boys are underrepresented across the board.”
Working in fashion, I try to speak up on ideas around diversity and how brands can create meaningful and genuine change.
“Including protocols around fashion like engaging with Traditional Owners before photoshoots to perform Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremonies is a great way to connect with Indigenous communities and pay respects to the land we are working on. Cultural awareness training in house for brands is another great way to create real and honest steps towards being diverse.”
“I believe Indigenous fashion is the future of Australian fashion. There is so much exciting work happening that can really give Australia a global fashion identity. I have been working with the Australian Fashion Council on projects to enhance the presence of Indigenous fashion in Australia and making sure that space is reserved for Indigenous artists and designers.”
I believe Indigenous fashion is the future of Australian fashion.
“Before I was in fashion I was an elite athlete. I was in the Australian Men’s Field Hockey Development Squad and playing with the WA Institute of Sport and The Perth Thundersticks. So my life was all about sport and I loved it for a long time. That was a great opportunity to travel and make lifelong friends. After I stopped playing in 2015 at that level, I moved from Perth to Melbourne and now I play Premier League in Melbourne with my club Greensborough. A lot of my teammates played high level hockey and all understand the fun we have now from our sport yet love competing.”
“[For the rest of the year] I’m focusing on the ground work for my label. There’s a lot of work to do but it’s very exciting. My work with the Australian Fashion Council and the projects I have with them are keeping me busy. I’m focusing on shooting great editorials and fashion stories while balancing that with commercial work I have coming out. Also to focus on taking care of myself mentally, physically, and spiritually during these challenging times. I think beautiful bed linen helps by making my sleep more comfortable. ;)”