Larrakia man Shaun Edwards used to play for Greater Western Sydney Giants and Essendon AFL clubs, but when the 28-year-old retired at 23 he wanted to channel his energy into giving back to remote communities in the Northern Territory. North he calls home.
“House of Darwin is a social enterprise clothing brand born out of our homeland – the Northern Territory,” says Edwards. “We tell the story of one of Australia’s last true frontiers – the NT – in a fun, graphic way that can take people somewhere they may not have the opportunity to travel. “
House of Darwin (HOD) is more than a fashion brand; as a social enterprise, it reinvests its funds in indigenous communities. His current initiative is Hoop Dreams in the NT – a project to renovate community basketball courts with frescoes produced in collaboration with the inhabitants.
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“We know that basketball courts act as a central point of health, dance and well-being for many communities in the Northern Territory,” says Edwards. “Renovating a basketball court with an engaging mural will have great health and wellness results.”
The idea for HOD came about two years ago, when Edwards was living with Ksubi founder and designer Dan Single in Los Angeles. Edwards worked for Likes Mentoring at the time and he was inspired by the work he did and wanted to bring the same mentoring and social enterprise efforts to the territory. Inspiration struck when there was the opportunity to take part in the annual Darwin Street Art Festival in 2020. Edwards collaborated with longtime friend and artist moon tunes (Liam Milner) on a 10 meter mural in Darwin’s CBD.
“We envisioned the HOD style and went for it,” says Edwards. It is now a clothing brand in its own right offering a unisex range of t-shirts, shirts, hats and bags, as well as its own brand of locally roasted coffee beans, Outback Roast Espresso.
Milner now directs HOD designs. “We are constantly traveling to meet new people and hear stories of how different parts of the NT have been shaped by [the people who] call the NT home,” says Edwards. “The unique characters here play a huge part in the designs.”
The colorful graphic designs feature notable NT references such as a map of the Stuart Highway printed on a tea towelor one Change the Date t-shirt which reads “Respect your elders”. It’s a tight collection of items you could wear in the NT, like a Kakadu bucket hator a Nitmiluk Gorge t-shirt with crocodile, helicopter and kayak artwork on the back.
T-shirts range from $29.95 to $60, and accessories such as sticker packs and a camping mug with the House of Darwin logo are available. All items can be purchased online or at the Social Enterprise store in Darwin. Although the clothes are all about sharing NT stories, HOD’s primary cause is to reinvest profits back into the community – and it is. So far, HOD has reinvested $80,000 into social programs and nonprofit organizations in the Northern Territory.
“We’re very proud of that,” says Edwards. “It may not change the world, but something as simple as restoring a basketball court can provide a safe place for a young member of the community to hang out and be safe.”