In the lead up to Anzac Day, an indigenous streetwear business which started out in Queanbeyan/Canberra has released a ‘Black Anzac’ design to honour the memory of indigenous Anzacs “who weren’t given the recognition they deserved”.
The new design by ‘Sacred Era’ is inspired by the memory of Aboriginal Gunner, Percy Suey, who spent three years as a prisoner of war after being captured by the Japanese during the Second World War, but received little recognition after returning home.
The ‘Black Anzac’ design is exclusively available on T-shirts and canvas tote bags sold online as part of a crowdfunding campaign aimed at taking the Sacred Era brand to the next level through launching its first collection and getting it stocked in stores in Australia and internationally. Five dollars from each sale of the T-shirts will also go to organisations who work with indigenous veterans.
Sacred Era founder Michael Weir said the ‘Black Anzac’ design shines a light on the contribution of indigenous veterans and their rightful place in the Anzac story.
“This piece acknowledges the long and proud history that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have fighting for their nation,” Mr Weir said.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have sacrificed their lives in every conflict Australia has been involved in since the Boar War commenced 1899,” he said.
“In the trenches they were equals, fighting side by side with their non-indigenous comrades but on the home soil they lived in poverty, were controlled by government policies, and received little to zero recognition for the sacrifices they had made.”
Mr Weir said he was researching the stories of indigenous veterans when he came across Percy Suey’s story and it just stood out to him.
“He served his country but because there was racism at the time they didn’t do much for him.”
“Only recently did his family receive the medals.”
Mr Weir was born and bred in Queanbeyan and began the Sacred Era fashion label in 2013 as a way to fund rap workshops for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.
He moved to Byron Bay late last year but maintains strong ties with Queanbeyan/Canberra and over the years has partnered with organisations such as the Belconnen Arts Centre, Ted Noffs – Street Uni and the AXIS Youth Centre in Queanbeyan to run a number of successful workshops in the area.
“The idea was to sell tees online and hand-to-hand at the markets and key events like NAIDOC Week and Survival Day to raise funds to run hip hop workshops for indigenous youth,” Mr Weir said.
“The dream was to sell shirts, run hip hop workshops and make beats. Five years later, two entrepreneur accelerator programs later, years of hitting up the markets and a lot of trial and error, the brand has grown into a celebration of the oldest living culture in the world,” Mr Weir said.
“It’s a way for our mob to express their pride in their culture and identity, a way for our friends and allies to show their support and appreciation of indigenous culture and people.
“Sacred Era is really a way to spread the word on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history.
“We create designs that tell the stories of our people and with each design, each T-shirt or hoodie, we send out the story behind it.”
The crowdfunding campaign through StartSomeGood has a tipping point goal of raising $35,000 which needs to be reached by 30 April, with around $23,850 raised at the time of publication.
The ‘Black Anzac’ T-shirts can be purchased through the campaign website for $50 (including postage in Australia) and the canvas tote bags for $30. The sales are only processed if the campaign tipping point goal is reached.
For more information or to purchase a ‘Black Anzac’ t-shirt of tote bag visit the crowd-funding campaign website by clicking here.
Below is a Sacred Era video about the streetwear brand.