If you’re looking for long-lasting, worthwhile, expertly-crafted apparel and accessories rooted in culture, community, history, art, resiliency, spirituality, and sustainability, these six Indigenous-owned brands are a wonderful place to start. These are some of my favorites; if there is an Indigenous-owned brand you would love to see featured here on Hey Rachel Marion, send a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know, I’d love to hear from you.
01. B. Yellowtail
Native American-owned and operated (founded by Bethany Yellowtail, an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Nation), B. Yellowtail’s powerful, unapologetic brand visuals and distinctive designs make it a must-include in this list. B.Yellowtail describes itself as “specializing in storytelling through wearable art”, and the stories are beautifully told. Cultural appropriation and derivative designs are rife in the fashion world, and B.Yellowtail is a welcome alternative, not only in its own products but also in its broader support of authentic Indigenous creativity and entrepreneurship. The brand has centered community by establishing The Collective, a section of their platform with the mission to support other Native American, First Nations, and Indigenous artists and makers by offering a curated assortment of their high-quality jewelry, accessories, and other hand-made goods sold on a consignment basis.
Starting with its evocative name and beautiful collaborations with other brands in this list, there’s a lot to love about ThunderVoice Hat Co. ThunderVoice Hat Co. resuscitates discards and abandoned, end-of-life, reclaimed materials into creations crafted with pride and passion. The brand’s site describes reclaimed as materials found at “leather store scraps, and old garage sales, and every antique store just off the road” or “cutting off the best parts of that old couch in the alley, and the tiniest lonely conchos in the pawn shop… It means steam cleaning, sageing, reshaping, and watching as the old items come to life.”
Shauna White Bear, founder of White Bear Moccasins, describes the experience of making dreamcatchers with her mother as the early impetus for her creativity, and her first experience of the intuitive act of creation that is free-wheeling art. This creativity, paired with training and leather-working and cobblery, now powers White Bear Moccasins. “I am an artist, designer, stylist, innovator, dreamer, a moccasin maker,” Shauna says. In addition to the White Bear Moccasins website, be sure to check out the White Bear Moccasins Instagram, where Shauna shares genuine stories of her thoughts, emotions, and activities as a small business owner in addition to photos of her creations.
You might be inclined to characterize the signature earrings of Warren Steven Scott as statement, and they are. But they’re also an improbable stylistic chameleon, as you’ll see highlighted on the brand’s Instagram account: adding interest to a simple white shirt, or complementing a cat-eye and red lip combo, or acting as boldly simplistic counterpoint to colorful retro patterns. Based in Toronto, Warren Steven Scott—founder of the eponymous brand—is a member of the Nlaka’pamux Nation and spotlights his heritage through an ultra-modern lens via his outfit-making creations.
Jennifer Younger is the award-winning creative powerhouse behind jewelry pieces like this beautiful cuff bracelet here, titled “Water Is Life”. Jennifer is Tlingit of the Eagle Kaagwaantaan clan, and her work has the free-flowing spirit of wilderness in it while maintaining a high level of precision in the craftsmanship. According to her site, Jennifer “draws inspiration from traditional Tlingit formline designs, historic artifacts, spruce root basket weaving patterns, and from the contrast and texture of metals”.
Ginew (pronounced Gih-noo) is the only Native American-owned denim brand. Evocative imagery of rugged, wide-open, adventurous nature mirrors the rugged materials of Ginew pieces. I’m loving how Ginew describes its inspirations and fusion of cultural elements: “Using meticulously sourced materials, we incorporate elements of our Ojibwe, Oneida, & Mohican heritage to express a contemporary Native American voice through our premium apparel and accessories. Ginew is Native-Americana, fusing Native American and enduring styles”. In addition to what’s available in its online store, Ginew clothing is also sold by a selection of stockists in the United States and internationally! #wearwithspirit
Which Indigenous-owned apparel and accessories creators should I add to this list? Email me at email@example.com because I’d love to know!