Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Chelsea Vowel

GET UPDATES FROM Chelsea Vowel
 

Can You Wear Native Fashion Without Being Offensive?

Posted: 11/24/2012 12:57 pm

A lot of attention has been drawn to the native fashion trend in the past year or so. From violations of the Navajo trademark, to No Doubt and Victoria's Secret experiencing a long-overdue backlash to the all-too common misuse of Plains warbonnets, the issues surrounding "native-inspired" fashion are being talked about on a wider scale.

What a lot of people are asking is, "If we love native fashion, where can we get it without engaging in cultural appropriation?"

Jessica Metcalfe (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) has been answering that question for quite some time on her blog, Beyond Buckskin. What's even more awesome is she launched the Beyond Buckskin Boutique which gives you instant access to legitimate native fashion, from haute couture to streetwear, modern and traditional.

The internet has provided native designers with a fantastic way of tapping into the extraordinary hunger for "Native American" fashion, and perhaps even more importantly, allow those of us who are fighting against cultural appropriation to offer some concrete alternatives to those who just really, really want this stuff.

That's what the "Buy Native" campaign recently launched by Metcalfe is aiming for. She provides a list of native run online stores you can access right now to meet all your native fashion needs.

In a recent article, Jessica Metcalfe was asked how launching a "native fashion" boutique is any different than what Urban Outfitters and so many other companies are doing. I think her response is well worth quoting here:

  1. I work with Native American artists -- folks who are active members of Native communities.

  2. These artists are exceptionally talented.

  3. They are also very knowledgeable and smart about their cultures and cultural values and know which items (i.e. sacred items) are off-limits and shouldn't be sold.

  4. They know how to translate the artistic traditions of their Native communities to be shared by people from ALL backgrounds.

  5. They don't resort to stereotypes, and they present a new vision and a new version of "the Native" in fashion.

  6. They are incredibly respectful of Native people.

  7. Profits from the Beyond Buckskin Boutique go directly to these artists and support small businesses, many of which are in Native communities and represent economic development strategies. I could go on.

This is pretty much as good as it gets, in my opinion. There is a difference between appropriation and appreciation, and Metcalfe pretty clearly explains that above.

So if you are looking for real Native American fashion, browse the many native-run stores out there for some kickass presents for you or others, no matter who you are or where you live.

See more misguided fashion decisions...

Loading Slideshow...
  • Nike

    St. Patrick's Day-themed SB Dunk Low <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/14/nike-black-and-tan_n_1344197.html" target="_hplink">"Black and Tan"</a> sneakers by Nike incite outrage from Irish community.

  • Victoria's Secret

    As part of the brand's "Far East" collection, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/24/victorias-secret-geisha-outfit-photos_n_1909366.html" target="_blank">"Sexy Little Geisha"</a> outfit came complete with a removable obi belt.

  • Urban Outfitters

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/03/eat-less-urban-outfitters_n_598904.html" target="_hplink">"Eat Less"</a> t-shirts aren't well received by, well, most people.

  • Urban Outfitters

    "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/01/urban-outfitters-st-patricks-day-clothes-_n_1313242.html" target="_hplink">Truly Madly Deeply Kiss Me</a>" t-shirt offends Irish groups.

  • Abrecrombie & Fitch

    Asian caricature t-shirts <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/ABERCROMBIE-GLITCH-Asian-Americans-rip-2850702.php" target="_hplink">caused outrage in California.</a>

  • Urban Outfitters

    Some Irish groups aren't pleased with this "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/01/urban-outfitters-st-patricks-day-clothes-_n_1313242.html" target="_hplink">Irish Yoga</a>" trucker hat.

  • Urban Outfitters

    Retailer gets in trouble for its "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/20/urban-outfitters-jewish-star-tshirt_n_1441731.html" target="_hplink">Jewish Star</a>" t-shirt.

  • Abrecrombie & Fitch

    "Wink Wink" and "Eye Candy" thongs for 10-year olds isn't a hit with all parents.

  • Urban Outfitters

    "New Mexico, Cleaner than Regular Mexico" t-shirts didn't go over well. (AP photo)

  • Urban Outfitters

    Ditto this "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/01/urban-outfitters-st-patricks-day-clothes-_n_1313242.html" target="_hplink">Truly Madly Deeply Irish Drunk" </a>scoop tank.

  • Pubic Hair Dye

    "Color for the hair down there" is not received well.

  • Taco Cid, South Carolina

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/09/how-to-catch-an-illegal-immigrant-taco-cid_n_2439294.html">"How to catch an illegal immigrant" shirt</a>

  • Fahad

    "Cuntier" hats <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/12/cartier-cuntier-hats_n_2861513.html?utm_hp_ref=style&ir=Style">spoof Cartier logo</a>.

  • Adidas 'Shackle' Sneakers

    Jeremy Scott designed these "handcuffs" sneakers for Adidas. However, after many complained that the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/18/adidas-shackle-sneakers-controversy_n_1605661.html" target="_hplink">cuffs looked more like shackles</a>, Adidas canceled its plans to sell the shoes.

  • Urban Outfitters

    Urban Outfitters thought it was a good idea to sell this shirt to its young demographic (with a lot of them being younger than 21).

  • Clean and Dry Intimate Wash

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/12/vagina-bleaching-ad_n_1420825.html" target="_hplink">Skin-lightening wash</a> targets consumers with dark colored privates.

 
FOLLOW CANADA BRITISH COLUMBIA