Honoring Authenticity: American Indian Fashion Brands

by Renee Mitson

There are respectful ways to honor American Indian fashion, and then there are not. Make the world a happier and healthier place, and avoid controversies like Victoria’s Secret headdresses and DC’s NFL franchise. Rather than re-appropriate the aesthetics we love, we gathered some American Indian fashion brands to support indigenous communities and promote authentic duds. 

Manitobah Mukluks 

image @manitobah

Unlike Minnetonka (not owned by North American natives), Mukluks are aboriginal-owned and seek to make a lasting impact on at-risk aboriginal communities. Mukluks make both original “mukluks” (an aboriginal word for winter boot) and moccasins. Each page on its site has a  “details,” where you can read a story about where the design comes from, and the native people that contributed to its production. 

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Eighth Generation

image @EighthGenerationbyLouieGong

Founded by designer Louie Gong of the Nooksak tribal community in Seattle, Washington, Eighth Generation is a hybrid brand of traditional aboriginal designs and modern streetwear. From funky and comofrtable throw blankets to abstract-geometric jewelry and fine art prints, the inventory is unique and plentiful. Gong puts revenue from Eighth Generation back into his community, specializing in helping aboriginal artisans become entrepreneurs. 

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J. Okuma


image @k.okuma

The brainchild of artist Jamie Okuma, this boutique brand specializes in one-of-a-kind garments hand executed by its namesake fashionista. She brands her inventory as "art to wear," with colorful-patterned dresses and leggings, shaped metal jewelry, and flowing scarves. Okuma's work has shown all over the world at American Indian Markets, as well as esteemed institutions like The Met in New York City, and the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. 

B. Yellowtail

image @byyellowtail

B. Yellowtail is a fashion collective featuring work by doesns of aboriginal artists. From hand-stitched blankets to leather handbags, everything here is original and artistic. The fifteen-plus American Indian artists use handmade techniques passed down from their families, from generation to generation. The website says, "we've set out to share more authentic indigenous art with the world while providing empowering, entrepreneurial initiatives for Native people."
For additional American Indian fashion, please also check out:
Salish Style
Tammy Beauvais
She Native
Gourd Jewels

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