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16 Aug

First U.S. Indigenous Fashion Week Launching in Santa Fe,

The style runway in Santa Fe is about to get even larger.

Following this weekend’s Southwestern Association for American Indian Arts, or SWAIA, fashion shows at Santa Fe Indian Market, the annual event will transition into Santa Fe Indigenous Fashion Week May 2 to five, 2024.

After 10 years of manufacturing and curating successful contemporary Indigenous fashion shows and exhibitions for SWAIA and multiple international institutions, curator and art historian Amber-Dawn Bear Robe (Siksika Nation) said it’s time to step up the event.

“SWAIA’s Indigenous Fashion Show began in 2014 with no budget, a U-Haul to move models to the skin runway location and a DJ with a microphone. To have the support of each SWAIA and the City of Santa Fe is immense. We plan to create the style hub for and to represent the range of Indigenous designers from america and Canada on a national platform,” she said.

WWD chatted with Bear Robe in regards to the development:

WWD: Why create this recent week?

Amber-Dawn Bear Robe: The style show has really outgrown the limited space and time that it has during market, because straight away we share the physical space on the convention center with the “best in show” and with all of those other events and the gala. So that is giving it a probability to face by itself and showcase the work and the talent that’s on the market in Native North America.

WWD: Why is now the time?
A.B.R.: There’s many the reason why interest in Native fashion has peaked. And I am going back to the social construct that’s mirroring what’s happening in the remainder of America and Canada, which is an awareness that there must be more room for representation.

WWD: There have been Indigenous fashion weeks in Canada, right?
A.B.R.: Yes, they really began their fashion shows after we began. And so we definitely must get up to the mark here. But you recognize, with Canada, there’s a distinct funding structure, which makes doing artistic events far more financially feasible, due to federal and provincial support from the federal government. In America, we’re really reliant on sponsorship, private and company sponsorship.

WWD: Have you ever secured sponsors?

A.B.R.: We don’t have a serious luxury automotive company that can underwrite the entire fashion week, we’re still searching for something like that.

WWD: Who do you anticipate attending, the industry, the general public, each?

A.B.R.: I’d love the industry to attend, after all. But because that is the primary yr and there’s an enormous demographic of America that doesn’t even know Native people exist, let alone Native fashion, let alone contemporary Native fashion, we now have lots of awareness and representation to get out. It’s great for Indigenous designers and models to go to Recent York Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week, whatever it might be, but I actually have a look at Indigenous Fashion Week as our place. It’s about making our own environment.

I’d love for this to be the worldwide place for people to experience and to work with Native designers and models. In Santa Fe, all of the ingredients are here — the artists, designers and talent coming from across Canada and the U.S., and the collectors of Indigenous art. It’s also the place the Native community comes by way of film and tv. So this really is a hub that nurtures all those artistic expressions. It’s like a Twenty second-century powwow in that all of us come together.

WWD: Will designers show individually?

A.B.R.: We’ll be having a dialogue and discussion with designers to see, what do they need? How do they see this moving forward? We would like designers to actually have a say in how this is formed and formed.

WWD: Is it too soon to say who’s participating?

A.B.R.: I do have some confirmed names, and lots of more will follow: Section 36, Maria Hupfield, Ginew, Caroline Monnet, Celeste Pedri-Spade and Randy Barton. I’m also really going to be pushing the wearable arts, by way of artists, lots of them working in Canada, who are literally initially generally known as performance artists, but who work with textiles. I need to bring that to the runway.

WWD: Since Native designers have lots of mediums and approaches, I imagine it won’t be everyone showing fall clothes, or anything like that?

A.B.R.: Right, what is exclusive is there are so many alternative approaches. We’re making our own narrative here reasonably than attempting to fit into this ideology of what’s on the market, which I believe is great.

WWD: Beyond runway shows, will there be other events?

A.B.R.: This can be meant to have a look at the layers and complexity of Native fashion beyond the visual beauty. There isn’t a Indigenous fashion theory, historical fashion garments and clothing have been framed as anthropological reasonably than fashion. So we’re not in the educational discourse and that’s something I’m really wanting to alter by talking critically and having writers and students come here to learn, to research and to write down.

WWD: Can designers apply to participate and where?

ABR: We now have a web site swaianativefashion.org, and designers and models can apply. We work with all different sizes, shapes, human beings, aliens, whatever it might be. We don’t just work with Indigenous models.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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