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4 Indigenous Designers To Have On Your Radar

Fashion is a form of art used to make a statement, accentuate beauty, and show personal style. These four Indigenous designers showcase these very qualities in their work. Usually, when you hear “Indigenous fashion” or “Native-American fashion” your mind goes to a stereotype like a headdress or fringe or moccasins. Not that these are not a part of Native-American fashions, they are just used in the wrong ways or created by non-Natives to make a profit for themselves. However, these designers grab that stereotype, tear it up, and throw it away! These designers embody modern Indigenous fashion. 

Their work makes a political statement either literally like many of Jared Yazzie’s eccentric pieces, or they incorporate traditional Indigenous fashions into a modern form, which you can see in many of these designers’ collections.

It is very important to see these designers’ art and fashion because it shows a form of who the modern Indigenous person is. It shows that we are not all the same because their work reflects aspects of their cultures and reveals the complexities and diversity in Indigenous communities. But most of all, it shows we are still here and we are thriving. 

Bethany Yellowtail – byellowtail

Bethany Yellowtail is Northern Cheyenne and Crow. She lives in Los Angeles where she creates and sells her clothing. Bethany Yellowtail uses feminine and modern styles as a base for her art. She incorporates many traditional designs and aspects into her fashion which amplifies her Indigenous identity while creating a modern vibe. You can see many of her looks worn by Shailene Woodley, and many Native American actors/actresses. Not only is Bethany Yellowtail a designer on the rise, she also has her own docu-series on YouTube that depicts her journey to her where she is now, her motivation and inspiration for her clothing, and her plans for what she wants in the future for herself and for other Indigenous designers. You can watch her series “alter-Native” on Indie Lens Storycast channel and check out her website at: https://www.byellowtail.com/

Jared Yazzie – OXDX 

Jared Yazzie is Diné/Navajo based in Tempe, AZ. He uses screen-printing to showcase his art in fabrics which are made into his garments. His textiles are derived from traditional Diné designs like the Navajo Wedding basket, the four colors of the sacred mountains, and numerous pottery designs. He creates graphic art that make political statements on Native issues. Even the name of his company “OXDX” is a political statement. You can look further into his collections and his inspirations on his website: https://www.oxdxclothing.com/ 

Korina Emmerich – EMME

Korina Emmerich is of Puyallup ancestry and currently lives in New York City where she works out of her studio. According to her website, her clothing and designs are derived from art, music, and her Native-American culture. Korina’s work has a polished modern base that highlights the female figure and amplifies culture. Her use of red, yellow, black and white and her use of fringe, drapery, and longer silhouettes show how she uses colors and styles to channel her Native-American culture into her looks. Korina founded her company in 2009 and several years later was a contestant on Project Runway Season 13 where she was able to showcase her talent and style in New York Fashion Week. You can check out her collections at: http://www.emmerichny.com/

Patricia Michaels – Pmwaterlily

Patricia Michaels is Taos Pueblo and currently lives and works from Taos, NM. Her brand Pmwaterlily was named after her Native name which shows one way she involves her Native-American culture in her work. Patricia was also a contestant on Project Runway Season 11 where she was able to showcase her work at New York Fashion Week; she was also on Project Runway All-Stars Season 4. Her work can be described as avant-garde and distinctive. Her work is inspired from nature and her Taos Puebloan culture and her clothing is flowy, ethereal, and light. The designs seen in her collections feature feathers and pottery designs which root from her Anasazi ancestry but are crafted with a modern twist. Her flowy garments imitate nature’s soft and natural flow which can be derived from the landscape in which she was raised in the Santa Fe, NM area. You can look more into her clothing and its origins at her website: http://pmwaterlilyfashion.com/


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