Native American Fashion - Admiration Or Appropriation? Posted on 21 Feb 02:11 , 0 comments

I have followed designer Jamie Okuma for quite some time now - I fell in love with a pair of her boots, which have become quite popular. They're beautifully beaded and I think she is a genius. Okuma and her peers are making great strides in fashion and I hope this trend continues. 

What I was sad to read in Salon is that much of what is created by Native American designers is being copied by design houses with much larger budgets, which enable them to mass produce and reach wider markets. Of course this is nothing new. It happens every day even when a design doesn't necessarily qualify as cultural or sacred art. The question is, where to draw the line between admiration and appropriation. 

Fashion is incredibly fluid. American black women have been accused of appropriating African fashion. That one is a bit confusing to me because we share the same DNA and never had a say in where we ended up in this world. We all borrow, change, create and wear what makes us feel good and compliments our own distinct beauty. 

Native American art and design should be treated as sacred for a variety of reasons that I think many of us can reflect on and understand. I do believe that if a particular indigenous nation or individual asks anyone to respect their art, it should be respected, however and whatever that entails.