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Ollie Henderson Starts A Riot


ollie henderson

Ollie Henderson—model, artist, musician, and activist—is a pretty damn impressive young lady. Via one hundred DIY T-shirts that she painted herself, the 23-year-old Australian native (though she’s currently based in New York) launched a new initiative, Start the Riot, at Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week Australia. “The basic premise is to encourage young people to become politically aware and involved,” Henderson told “There’s a lot going on in Australia that I don’t agree with. I was tired of the government making decisions on my behalf, and I just felt like I had to do this.” The T-shirts, which models and designers have been sporting around MBFWA, are printed with phrases like “Welfare Over Wealth,” “Save the Reef,” “Reject Racism,” and “Welcome Refugees, Save Lives.” The latter is a cause about which Henderson is particularly passionate. “It’s a human right to seek asylum, and welcoming refugees can only make our country better. We have a lot of people coming over with the hope of establishing a life somewhere other than their war-torn countries, and they’re put in detention centers, which don’t really have pathways to help the refugees get settled anywhere,” she explained emphatically. “Imagine spending your entire life savings to get on a dangerous boat, or sending your 9-year-old child off by herself so she doesn’t get killed and has the opportunity for education, which everyone should have. These people aren’t just seeking a better life because they’re fed up with the one they’ve got—they’re seeking a life.”

Henderson has also launched a Start the Riot Facebook page in order to encourage discussion, as well as a zine, which was handed out at the Desert Designs show on Monday. The model, who told us she collects vintage goggles (during this interview, she sported a pair that her father had given her for Christmas with her protest tee) has yet-to-be-revealed plans to expand the project, and asks that supporters continue to keep their eyes open. As for why she decided to kick things off with a range of T-shirts, Henderson offered, “Fashion is a big part of our lives. We consciously choose what we wear every day, and it’s a great medium to express how you feel. It’s really empowering that you can spread a message to the world about your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs through your clothes.” Right on.

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