10 Indigenous Fashion and Beauty Brands You Need to Have on Your Radar
by : Erica Ngao and Melissa Perdigao- Jun 20th, 2020
Hinaani Design is an apparel and accessories brand based in Arviat, Nunavut. It was founded by a collective of artists and designers from the Kivalliq region who incorporate elements of traditional crafts and syllabics to celebrate Inuit culture and language. Every year, the studio produces a limited-edition line of Hanaugait products, including handmade clothing, jewellery and other items that are only available at events.
Mother-daughter design duo Cheryl and Carissa Copenace create regalia and ready-to-wear using contemporary appliques and traditional beadwork patterns that reflect their Anishinaabe culture. The pieces, which can also be custom-ordered, are available for purchase through their Instagram. This year, they were one of eight Indigenous artists and designers selected to collaborate with Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto and Quebec City-based retailer Simons on a capsule collection.
Section 35 – named for the section of the Canadian constitution that recognizes and affirms Indigenous and treaty rights – is a streetwear label based on Coast Salish Territory in Vancouver. Co-founded by Justin Louis, who is from Maskwacis Cree Nation in Alberta and grew up on the Samson Cree Nation, the brand draws inspiration from Indigenous imagery and political messaging to bring awareness to and create conversation about Indigenous issues.
Indi City is a contemporary jewellery label founded by Angel Aubichon and inspired by her mother’s elegant and contemporary style. She co-owns the brand with her partner Alexandra Manitopyes, and together they’re creating handcrafted beaded and laser-cut acrylic jewellery.
Cree and Métis designer Angela DeMontigny has been creating custom-made and ready-to-wear leather clothing, accessories and jewellery collections for over two decades. Her leather and suede pieces come in bold metallic finishes and finished with details like fringe, cutwork and hand beading.
Sḵwálwen (pronounced skwall-win) is a small-batch botanical skincare brand founded by ethnobotanist Leigh Joseph. Joseph draws on Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) plant knowledge and her academic background to craft high quality, sustainably-harvested formulas that honour the land from which they are gathered.
The Yukon Soaps company is based in Mayo, Yukon and offers made-from-scratch soaps created by founder Joella Hogan. The soaps are inspired by the Yukon and Hogan’s travels around the world. Also available for purchase are a variety of locally-made artisanal products like essential oil blends, brushes, tees and shampoo bars.
Founded by Carrie Armstrong, Mother Earth Essentials is a bath and beauty line inspired by traditional Indigenous recipes and teachings. Armstrong comes from a lineage of Cree Medicine women and draws upon the knowledge passed down to her to create high quality, naturally-derived products. Her beauty and bath products are sold in retail locations across Canada and can also be found in select hotels as in-room amenities.
Launched in 2016, Cheekbone Beauty is an online cosmetics brand founded by Jenn Harper. The Anishinaabe-Canadian set out to create a line of vegan, universally-flattering cosmetics made with Indigenous women in mind. The products are designed to be economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, which is reflected in the advocacy work that Harper and her team are involved in. To date, Cheekbone Beauty has donated thousands to community partners with a strong focus on closing the educational funding gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.
Sequoia, which is named for the Cherokee chief who developed the Cherokee writing system and the giant Sequoia coniferous trees that live thousands of years, carries handmade soaps, bath bombs, fragrance oils, incense and more. Founder Michaelee worked as an engineer over 15 years ago and launched her cosmetics brand after being inspired by her grandmother’s craftsmanship. The team is completely Indigenous-owned and -operated and each product is designed, formulated and tested by Michaelee herself.
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