Natives are so hot right now. Recently I was interviewed for a documentary and asked the question “If you were to wear a piece of your cultural heritage in an obvious manner out on the street, how would you be treated?” I answered that the Native trend is so huge right now that I’m sure I’d be given looks of approval, and coveted stares if I wore my Nathalie Waldman leather fringed bag or my Manitobah Mukluks out walking down Queen Street in Toronto.
The picture is not always so bright. Controversy over cultural appropriation is ripe in the current climate. Just last month there was a lot of fuss about Michelle Williams on the cover of AnOther Magazine as it was speculated that she was donning redface. My background in fashion editorials informed me otherwise, although I have also been known to get upset when I think pop culture has crossed the appropriation line. There was also that Paul Frank and his Fashion Night Out racist pow wow party, and who can forget the Navajo hipster panty disaster and following lawsuit?
The times are changing. With the advent of social activism and social media Native people are really working together to begin to make magic happen. Media outlets are aware that authenticity really is best. In April’s GQ Style Bible, Sante Fe Indian Market is listed as one of twenty five shops worth traveling to.
”No disrespect to Urban Outfitters, but the legit Navajo prints are at this summer mega-event.”
And then there’s Beyond Buckskin Boutique’s lookbook, which just got mentioned on CNN today. Native peoples making Native fashion and making their own images. We are finally moving beyond Edward S. Curtis lens and making our own marks.
Photographer Thosh Collins (aka Thoshography) teamed up with Ashley Callingbull (Model, Blackstone Actor, Pageant princess) to create “Reappropriation.” In this series of photos Callingbull digs in her closet to showcase her authentic Native fashion and present it in a good way honouring her family, her nation and all Native people across Turtle Island (North America). Welcome to the new frontier of Native fashion.