Founder and designer of popular Australian fashion brand Black Milk James Lillis dies while on holiday

The founder of a popular Brisbane-based fashion brand has died while on holiday. Black Milk founder James Lillis was seriously injured in an accident, the fashion brand announced on social media. He died on Thursday, February 22.

The circumstances surrounding his death, and where he was holidaying, remain unclear.

“He managed to hold on until his wife Linda, their two daughters, and his best friend arrived to be by his side,” the company said.

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“He succumbed to his injuries and passed away peacefully.” has reached out to Black Milk for comment.

Black Milk was founded in 2009, and at one stage was labelled one of Australia’s’s fastest-growing clothing companies.

Black Milk founder James Lillis was seriously injured in an accident, the fashion brand announced on social media. He died on Thursday, February 22.  Credit: Supplied

Lillis’ designs were known for their “geek chic” and have been worn by celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Whoopi Goldberg.

He also collaborated with major franchises like Pokemon, Avatar, sailor Moon and The Witcher.

Lovers of the label took to social media to say Lillis created a “wonderfully inclusive community” through his business.

Customer Chereena Carter said that Lillis was one of the first people to make her feel comfortable in plus-sized clothing.

“JL stood with me for ages chatting about body shapes and sizes and what his goal was for future designs. I was very nervous about being in bare minimum clothing, but not once did he make me feel uncomfortable,” she said on Instagram.

Others described him as an “amazing human”.

“James was such an electric ball of energy and unlike anyone I’ve ever met. He created this wonderful community that introduced me to some of the best people I’ve ever met, and for that, I’m so grateful,” one person said.

Lillis said he founded the label when he was “broke and working odd jobs here and there”, according to the company’s website.

He sold a CD player and used the money to buy a sewing machine that he worked on for six hours a day.

“I had absolutely no idea how to use it, but I didn’t care. I would just have to figure it out! That was all part of the adventure,” Lillis said.

“I bought a tent and went to the markets. I turned up at 5.30am every Saturday and stood around in the sun all day, trying to sell my leggings.

“I would earn enough to pay for the site, get a few cups of coffee, and maybe a little fabric for the week.

“A lot has changed from those early days. Instead of me sewing everything by myself at night, we have a fantastic team who now creates your Black Milk pieces — most made right here in Australia.”


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