Decolonise to Survive

February 12, 2019

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With upcycling as a sustainable fashion technique, I was excited to feature upcycled designs made by YHI Creations. I love everything about them – from their ethos, originality, mission-driven innovations and philosophies to their very stylish and artistic redesigns.  Made from 95% recycled clothing, they produce conceptual aboriginal art imagery handcrafted by the founder, Ella Noah Bancroft. The imagery is sewn onto unique one-off vintage and preloved pieces. They also screen print on organic cotton, just like my t-shirt with the powerful message, ‘Decolonise to Survive’.

YHI’s phrase, ‘Decolonise to Survive’ is about looking at what in your own life has been colonised. It’s about taking back power through sovereignty and looking at how colonisation actually disempowers us all. It’s about reconnecting to our humanness.

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YHI (pronounced Whee) is an Indigenous, Australian, ethical, culturally-innovative jewellery and clothing company. YHI is an Aboriginal word that comes from the Gamilaroi (Kamilaroi) nation. It translates to goddess of light and creation.

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YHI can be described as an activist line that uses style and art to bring awareness to current political, social and environmental issues. YHI is about social change, creating a cause and spreading a message of unity regarding the fashion industry’s impact on the pollution of our planet, while sparking conversation about our own social structures. YHI wants to empower people to understand the effect their actions have on the environment so that people make more informed decisions when purchasing clothing, without having to compromise on their personal style. Ella believes connection to country starts with caring for country.

Ella Noah Bancroft, artist, designer and founder of  YHI Creations .

Ella Noah Bancroft, artist, designer and founder of YHI Creations.

Ella is a Bundjalung Artist. Her Indigenous heritage has been a major influence in the creation and execution of YHI. She has been inspired by the evolution of the rich culture embedded in our country that’s now over 60 thousand years old. She believes the Earth Cycle's survival is dependent upon our community embracing a more sustainable future. YHI shines a light on waste and recycling in a way that supports people to embrace change. This is why their products are designed to instigate a sustainable lifestyle through a shift in people’s awareness, thoughts and actions. Their mission is to change the way we see fashion and how we can take responsibility for our creations’ footprints. 

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Ella coined the phrase ‘Decolonise to Survive’ from the realisation that the system does not work. With the rising rates of mental health and obesity levels, and with the amount of suicides our country faces each day, she needed to address the situation.

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Ella believes the meaning behind the statement ‘Decolonise to Survive’ could be the key to our physiological success in social change by reconnecting to our humanness.

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Decolonising is a direct link to regaining power of the mind and also shifting social change.  In order to regain the mind, we must decolonise it. Decolonising begins with looking at how we can stand together with a strong message, a unified message as Indigenous pioneers to reclaim personal and collective power and to inspire others to reclaim their power for the sake of all our future children.


The Look: I love my ‘Decolonise to Survive’ t-shirt. Everyone asks what it means. For this look I paired it with a black layered tulle skirt, tan buckle belt, cream-colour panama hat and flat, tan sandals.

Styling tip: To me this is an everything t-shirt. Wear it with jeans, pencil skirt, shorts - everything. Personally, I’d wear it with a long ball gown skirt and flat sandals.

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Light Denim Fire Patch Jacket: Perfect match over the t-shirt.

Styling tip: This sort of jacket can go with almost anything in your Spring/Autumn wardrobe has the right colour pairing and isn’t too corporate.

Outfit sourced from:

T-shirt and jacket: YHI Creations

Black layered tulle skirt: PDSA Op Shop, Bristol, UK

Tan belt: Noffs Op Shop, Surry Hills, Sydney

Panama hat: Hand-me-down from a friend

Flat, tan sandals: Suitcase Rummage preloved market, Canberra.

Photos by Brunela Fenalte Photography.

- Nina Gbor