Across the globe, there are many Indigenous fashion designers whose talent is immense, yet oftentimes overlooked in favour of mainstream designers. Whether they specialize in fringe sealskin mittens or intricate beading, their profound contribution to the fashion industry must be celebrated. Ahead, we’re spotlighting 10 Indigenous designers who are combining history, culture and art with the world of fashion.
Warren Steven Scott
As a Ryerson fashion grad based in Toronto and a member of the Nlaka’pamux Nation in B.C., Warren Steven Scott is best known for his abstract designs and bold jewellery pieces. Scott’s collections bridge the Western concept of luxury fashion with his Salish culture.
Catherine Blackburn is of Dene and European ancestry, and a member of the English River First Nation from Saskatchewan. She works with bead and jewellery, and explores contemporary concepts with aspects of Dene culture.
In 1998, Dorothy Grant became the first fashion designer to combine traditional Haida art with clothing. Grant’s work, embodying the Haida philosophy Yaangudang (or “self-respect”), has been displayed in numerous museums across Canada and today, she continues to make one-of-a-kind garments.
Evan Ducharme‘s work draws inspiration from his Metis culture and the surrounding environment of his territory. His pieces have a minimal, classic look yet feel modern. His designs focus on creating images of contemporary Indigenous identities, reclaiming Indigenous sexualities and using environmentally conscious practices.
Janelle Wawia is an Anishinaabe artist from northwestern Ontario. A trapper on her family’s trap lines, her work incorporates furs and leathers that she’s processed herself.
Tania Larsson is a Gwich’in and Swedish designer who creates contemporary, northern Indigenous pieces based on Gwich’in culture. She uses materials such as muskox horns and caribou hide to create earrings and necklaces, most of which are harvested through subsistence hunting. Her jewellery studio is based in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and she also works in silversmithing and metalwork.
Delina White is a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe from northern Minnesota. Her work focuses on the materials, symbolism and design patterns of the art from nations of the Great Lakes.
Meghann O’Brien is a Haida and Kawkwaka’wakw weaver from Alert Bay, B.C. A former professional snowboarder who left the sport to weave full-time, she uses materials such as hand-spun mountain goat wool and cedar bark in an innovative approach to traditional basketry.
Lesley Hampton is a Toronto-based Canadian-First Nations designer. Her eponymous label specializes in evening-wear and athleisure statement pieces. She recently won the Fashion Impact Award at the 2021 Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards.
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