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Afends have made it their mission to cultivate change and pave the way for sustainable practices and production by using eco-friendly materials like hemp and recycled fabrics within the fashion industry and attracting like-minded individuals into their business space. Upon meeting Shaun Edwards, they were in awe of his creative ideas, passion for keeping traditions within his indigenous heritage alive and efforts to give back to the community, solidifying House of Darwin as the foundation for an epic collaboration.
Afends and House of Darwin designed the capsule collection Return To Earth to share Shauns' extensive knowledge of the land and submerge their audience into the traditional culture of the indigenous people who call NT home. Motivated by the raw beauty of the Northern Territory, the rich indigenous culture, and their continued traditions, the capsule is a collaborative effort to inspire people to seek knowledge and join hands in the chorus of change.
Join Afends and House of Darwin as they embark on their journey across through the NT - from the quiet beaches of Mandorah to the refreshing waterfalls of Litchfield National Park and the coastal concrete culture of Darwin city.
The Afends creative team - George, the Creative Director; Marcus, the Menswear Designer; Grant, the Photographer - drive from Byron Bay to the Gold Coast airport to check in with Virgin Australia. They board their flight to Darwin, arriving 8 hours later and step out of the plane and into the tropical air of the NT. The crew take a short taxi ride to their hotel and get some much-needed rest before the next three days of business and pleasure begin.
After an early rise followed by a caffeine hit, the Afends creative team meet with Shaun and Day 1 of their Northern Territory adventure begins. It was time to hit their first campaign shoot location, and the destination in mind was Wagait beach in Mandorah: a sleepy beach town, just a short 20 minute ferry ride across the harbour from Cullen Bay Marina. Shaun and the Afends crew meet with the models for their first day on location, two of whom were Shauns uncle, Tibby Quall and Nan, Denise Quall. They all board the ferry, get comfortable and brainstorm creative ideas for Afends X H.O.D in preparation for their campaign shoot.
With Darwin still in view over the horizon, and a short 20 minutes later, they arrive at Mandorah Jetty, mesmerised by the contrasting hues of the tropical NT landscape. Breathing in the warm salty breeze, they admire the beauty of Mandorahs bright blue sea as it meets the vibrant orange Earth adorned with native vegetation and scattered with towering palm trees - a sight for sore eyes.
They hop in a bus for a fee of five dollars and drive a short six minutes to the town of Mandorah. The sleepy beachside fishing villiage - with only 1000 residnts - provides an easy getaway for travelers in Darwin and a peaceful home for locals. With 4WD tracks along the coastlines and empty beaches to soak in the laid back lifestyle, it provides the perfect weekend getaway or day tripping option.
In search of a decent feed before the shoot, the group head to the Cox Country Club: a perfect little territory pub well known for the best value food in town and hosting the popular MUFF - the annual Mandorah Ukulele Folk Festival. Attratcing those near and far, the festival brings the community together through performances from local folk artists, family workshops and plenty of good food - and it will be returning in 2023.
Sitting underneath the cooling shade of a Bayan tree, the team each made a selection from a menu of local seafood, flavourful curries, and classic pub feeds with a handful of vegetarian options. With their plates empty, bellies full and last sip of beer down the hatch, the team cruise to Wagait beach to kick off the campaign. Upon arriving at the clear, flat waters of Wagait beach, the models were styled in the Afends X H.O.D pieces and shot until the sun began to sink over the horizon. It was the perfect shoot day: blue skies, sea breeze and bursts of orange hues to play with as the sun went down.
Once the shoot wrapped up, they headed back on the ferry to Lolas Pergola for dinner: a unique restaurant notoriously known for its circus theme, showcasing a variety of quirky decor with a large front outdoor garden overlooking the Cullen Bay Marina. A must-visit in Darwin, housing live music, great pizza, drinks and a stunning view - what more could you want.
The Afends team, Shaun and the modeling crew drive 90 minutes south of Darwin city to Litchfield National Park in anticipation of their second day shooting. Wanting to showcase the rugged beauty of the raw NT wilderness, they decided that the native bushland, waterfalls, and swimming holes found in Litchfield National Park would be the ideal place to explore and shoot.
The crew began at Florance Falls, where water cascaded out of ancient rock formations, and native shrubs and palm trees brought the place to life. The colours of the land beautifully complimented the vibrance of the Afends X H.O.D range whilst showcasing the beauty in the rawness of this part of the NT.
Just a short distance from Florance Falls was Buley Rockhole: where everyone had a chance to reset and refresh in the crystal clear rockpool. Although the NT is notorious for crocs, these rockholes were far too high up, so rest assured you can help immerse yourself in the cool and calm beauty of it without a worry in the world.
Feeling relaxed and ready for some late lunch, the team head off to Litchfield Cafe for a coffee and some food to keep them sustained for the second half of shooting. Offering a sprinkle of outback charm and an array of quality cafe menu items like burgers, toasties and an assortment of cakes - the team left satisfied and ready.
As the sun began to set and they drove in search of a new shoot location, they noticed a fire in the distance, which upon aproaching, they realised that was the traditional method of backburning. Backburning is an Indigenous method of fire management, which involves lighting a low fire with fire sticks in a controlled pattern in order to stop uncontrolled bushfires in their path. The team took this as an epic opportunity to showcase this cultural tradition within their campaign shots, with the models in front of the flickering flames turing the native shrubbery behind them to patterned lines of burnt wood and sticks.
After a big day, it was time to wrap up and venture back to Darwin city. When driving out, they noticed the famous ant hills that form one of Litchfields most impressive sights. Crafted from termites and sometimes soaring over two metres high, they made an epic background for our last few campaign shots.
The team wake up on day three to the smell of laksa and venture to the Parap Markets indulge in some flavour rich laksa and asian treats. Being located close to Asia, Darwin inherits a solid history and culture around food that is unique to the area. Eating laksa for breakfast in 35 degree heat may not make sense to most, but overtime it, has become a staple to the Darwin way of life.
Whilst at the markets, Shaun takes the Afends team across the road to visit the Laundry Gallery: an Aboriginal owned multidisciplinary creative hub located in Darwin City. They’re known for representing modern iterations of Indigenous arts and cultures and provide an accessible pathway for age old songlines to co-exist with the modern world. After taking time to admire the art displayed, it was time to visit where Shaun spends most of his time - the House of Darwin shopfront.
Shaun took the team at Afends to the iconic air arcade, where you will find the House of Darwin store, home to Shauns creations, designs and collaborative pieces. Embodying the ethos and personality of the brand, the concept store offers vibrant pops of colour, photos of Shaun's travels within the community, and indigenous art hanging amongst the House of Darwin range.
It was time for lunch, and the team continued the exploration of asian flavours incorporated within Darwins community deciding upon the restaurant Sari Rasa. We treated our tastebuds to a range of authentic Indonesian flavours, with dishes like nasi goreng and curries for a more than reasonable price. After filling up on good food, the team took to The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) to soak up the NT history and culture displayed within its walls.
To round out the trip, the team ventured to Babylons, Darwins first retro-inspired bar tucked away at the back of the Air Arcade. After a few cheeky beverages, it was time for dinner and there is no better way to celebrate a well spent working holiday in Darwin than with an authentic Sri Lankan meal at Ellas - and so they did.
We journeyed to the top end, flying with Virgin Australia Direct to Darwin to shoot our collection Return to Earth. Together, we experienced the rawness, unique vibes and many colours of Darwin, which we couldn’t wait to share. Most importantly, we were there to learn from the longest continued culture on Earth and how indigenous practices can help modern society return to Earth.
Now it's your turn. We’re giving you and a friend the chance to WIN the ultimate NT experience, including return economy flights, a $5,000 voucher with NT, plus three items of your choices from the Afends x House of Darwin capsule. Find out more here.
Ready, Set, Jet.
Competition ends 23rd of December 11:59pm AEDT.
Sponsors: Virgin Australia
Collaboration: House of Darwin
Photography: Byron Spencer
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