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David Leslie on debuting at Melbourne Fashion Festival, artist collaborations and future projects

Phoebe Blogg -

While there are few Australian creatives specialising in the realm of artist-designed men’s swimwear, fashion designer David Leslie has made a name for himself by doing precisely just that.  

Despite only launching his men’s swimwear brand Gali roughly 18 months ago, Leslie has already showcased his brand at Australian Fashion Week and Miami Swim Week as well as being nominated for a Business Achievement Award in 2023 at the National Indigenous Fashion Awards.

The idea of collaborating with First Nations artists across Australia has seen Leslie grow his brand to both local and international acclaim.  

“We’ve been around for about 18 months now; we collaborate with First Nations artists across Australia to translate their art into premium men’s swimwear. Over the last few months we’ve been busy working on new artist collaborations,” he said.

Models backstage at MFF wearing Gali. (Image: Dan Castano)


Aside from it being Gali’s first time showcasing in Naarm (Melbourne) it will also be Leslie’s debut at Melbourne Fashion Festival.

“It is our Melbourne Fashion Festival debut! It’s also the first time we’ve ever showcased Gali in Naarm which is beyond exciting. We’re very honoured that we were selected as an emerging designer for the Emerging Mob In Fashion runway,” Leslie told Style up earlier this week.

“We’re looking forward to working with the team, and to connecting with other First Nations designers, many who we’ve been yarning with over social media - and to witness the diversity and creativity within our community.”

Gali on the runway at MFF. (Image: Lucas Dawson)


When it comes to what Gali showcased at the Melbourne Fashion Festival, Leslie states that the brand was thrilled to be able to present their latest collection labelled ‘Worimi Waves’, a special collaboration with Worimi-Biripi artist, Jake Simon.

“We are thrilled to be presenting our latest collection (‘Worimi Waves’) which is a special collaboration with the incredibly talented Worimi-Biripi artist, Jake Simon. ‘Worimi Waves’ pays homage to the serene beauty of Jake’s country. He uses a lot of symbolism within his works,” he said.

“The collection speaks to his childhood memories on the coast, while the muted colours are intended to mirror the calming sounds of the ocean, the natural melodies of morning birds, and the tranquillity of the sun as it sets across the country. We’re super excited to showcase our new swim shorts and towels - some of which we’re sending down the Melbourne Fashion Festival runway.”

(Image: Dan Castano)


When raising the topic of the fashion industry's evolving mission for greater representation, Leslie mentions that he has noticed a positive shift within the industry.

“For me, I think there’s an ever-increasing amount of representation in the industry. I’ve only been in the industry for a year and a half and I’m blown away with how I’ve seen it grow – with First Nations models, new emerging brands and designers, and existing labels taking their collections international. I foresee First Nations fashion becoming a larger representation of Australia on the global stage,” Leslie told Style Up.  

Models backstage at MFF wearing Gali. (Image: Dan Castano)


Although 2024 has only just begun, the talented menswear designer already has plans to launch four new products, in addition to several new and exciting collaborations. Whilst MFF may be Leslie’s sole focus this month, we are set to see Gali grace the runway in Melbourne and beyond.

“This year we’re focusing on prints, products and partnerships. We’ve got quite a few artworks and prints that we’re really excited to showcase this year, and this year will see us launch four new products. We’re also excited to announce some partnerships soon,” he said.  


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