A lot of attention has been drawn to the native fashion trend in the past year or so. From violations of the Navajo trademark, to No Doubt and Victoria’s Secret experiencing a long-overdue backlash to the all-too common misuse of Plains warbonnets; the issues surrounding ‘native inspired’ fashion are being talked about on a wider scale.
(Go ahead and sate your hunger for native fashion, the legitimate way!)
What a lot of people are asking is, “If we love native fashion, where can we get it without engaging in cultural appropriation?”
Jessica Metcalfe (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) has been answering that question for quite some time on her blog, Beyond Buckskin. Even more awesome, she launched the Beyond Buckskin Boutique which gives you instant access to legitimate native fashion, from haute couture to streetwear, modern and traditional.
In a recent article, Jessica Metcalfe was asked how launching a ‘native fashion’ boutique is any different than what Urban Outfitters and so many other companies are doing. I think her response is well worth quoting here:
- I work with Native American artists – folks who are active members of Native communities.
- These artists are exceptionally talented.
- They are also very knowledgeable and smart about their cultures and cultural values and know which items (ie sacred items) are off-limits and shouldn’t be sold.
- They know how to translate the artistic traditions of their Native communities to be shared by people from ALL backgrounds.
- They don’t resort to stereotypes, and they present a new vision and a new version of ‘the Native’ in fashion.
- They are incredibly respectful of Native people.
- Profits from the Beyond Buckskin Boutique go directly to these artists and support small businesses, many of which are in Native communities and represent economic development strategies. I could go on.
This is pretty much as good as it gets, in my opinion. There is a difference between appropriation and appreciation, and Metcalfe pretty clearly lays out what they are above. Beyond Buckskin has a page devoted to a variety of native-run stores you can browse this holiday season for some kickass presents for you or others. Take a look at some of what is available out there, for natives and non-natives alike!
(Gorgeous hand made, beaded moccasins done in traditional Tlicho Dene style! These are a children’s size 1.)
(Edzerza Gallery, by Tahltan artist Alano Edzerza, bringing you urban style with traditional flair!)
So whether you’re looking for someone awesome to spend your money on and treasure for always, or if you’re just sick of people asking you, “Are we allowed to wear ANYTHING AT ALL!?” you can use this resource as resounding, “YES PLEASE!”
(Traditional porcupine quill earrings by Ista Ska (Lakota).)