Deeply inspired by their heritage, indigenous peoples around the world use their unique skills such as toolwork, weaving, dye techniques, and intricate design to tell beloved stories of their culture. As a result, beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces are put into the world like works of art. Unfortunately, their craft and creativity is all too often appropriated by fashion houses without credit of origination. With 2021 fully ahead of us, let’s give credit where credit is due and make this the year of fashion diversity by supporting multicultural designers as often as possible! Start by taking a look at these indigenous fashion designers and clothing brands that you need to know—and be sure to give them a follow on social media to keep tabs on their collections!
If color and print are your jam, Lisa is your girl! Nigerian and West Indian designer Lisa Folawiyo combines influences of West African textiles with hand embellishment and modern tailoring to create beautiful women’s separates and matching sets. She is most known for her intricate, hand-beaded garments, which require an average of 240 hours of work per piece—wow! Fortunately, her work has not gone unnoticed as her designs have been worn by celebrities including Solange Knowles and Lupita Nyong’o.
Native American owned-and-operated fashion brand and retailer B.Yellowtail was founded by Northern Cheyenne and Crow designer Bethany Yellowtail as a way to support the entrepreneurial spirit of Native American, First Nations, and Indigenous creators. Their gorgeous collection combines casual pieces, accessories and business casual attire that is begging to be worn to the office. In addition, they host the B.Yellowtail Collective, a platform for other indigenous artists, designers, and creators to market their handmade merchandise.
Native Hawaiian artist and hula dancer Brandy-Alia Serikaku is the creative behind eco-friendly footwear brand OluKai, and her inspiration is evident in each and every style. Her deep connection with nature and community influences her designs, reflecting the unique Hawaiian landscape and culture, while making as little an impact on the environment as possible. Her collection features shoes, slippers, sandals and boots for men, women and children and can be found at retailers including Zappos and Nordstrom to name a few.
ThunderVoice Hat Co.
Founded by Navajo and Totonoc maker ThunderVoice Eagle, Native Fashion brand ThunderVoice Hat Co. delivers hand-sourced, vintage hats embellished with reclaimed and repurposed treasures such as feathers, coins, old bullets, and even natural materials like turquoise, lavender and sage. What does “hand-sourced” mean? It means they scour garage sales and thrift stores, pour through shooting ranges for old bullets, and ultimately go the extra mile to give new life to items already produced as a show of eternal appreciation for Mother Earth. In addition to their super neat heat, they also sell t-shirts, jackets, masks, art, and more!
Warren Steven Scott
Warren Steven Scott, luxury fashion designer and proud member of the Nlaka’pamux Nation in British Columbia, has had a love for fashion his entire life. After earning a degree in fashion design and interning for several Canadian designers, he had the honor of debuting this first collection as part of Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto. His most recent collection features beautifully made earrings in a collection that “bridges the Western concept of luxury fashion with his ancestral worldview on ethics, craft, and aesthetic sensibility”.
From masks to lounge and activewear to workwear, Andréanne Anne Mulaire has it all! Inspired by her French Métis descent and her great-great-great-grandmother, an accomplished seamstress, Anne embraces her heritage to create one-of-a-kind designs in an eco-friendly manner and a focus on comfort. As described on her website, “Anne Mulaire is an expression of heritage, beauty, comfort, and pride.”