Business | National

Native Sun News: Beyond Buckskin launches first look book





The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.


An image from the recently released Beyond Buckskin look book.

Beyond Buckskin Boutique launches look book
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Staff writer

LAS VEGAS – Beyond Buckskin and its founder Dr. Jessica Metcalfe a Turtle Mountain Chippewa are breaking new ground in the fashion industry with last week’s launch of a first of its kind look book.

The look book will feature 17 designers from across Indian Country and is the first of its kind to be created by, feature, and essentially be entirely Native American. Shot in and around the city of Los Angeles the book includes page after page of high quality professional images of Native American models sporting the work of other Native American designers.

Beyond Buckskin originally started as an online blog in 2009 that produces commentary on Native American fashion and expanded to include a boutique in early 2012 featuring Native American designed clothing and jewelry. Not only is Beyond Buckskin a business venture with the boutique, but the blog has established itself as a necessary watchdog of mainstream media and pop culture that continually misappropriates Indigenous culture and imagery. Recently Dr. Metcalfe helped to hold Victoria’s Secret accountable for their use of Native American imagery during one of their nationally televised fashion shows. Victoria’s secret consequently edited out the portion of the show that featured the imagery after Metcalfe and other tribal advocates cried foul.

Part of the reason why the look book was created was to help address many of the issues that impact Indian country including cultural appropriation and beyond.

“This book will be used to highlight the professionalism of Native American artists and designers and to encourage customers, leaders, and business partners to invest in Native-made fashion and art as forms of economic development in Indian Country” said Dr. Metcalfe in a press release. “The project also presents Native-made fashion as strong visual forms sovereignty as it pertains to reclaiming Native representations in mainstream media,” she added.

Dr. Metcalfe earned her undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and earned her Ph.D. in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on Native designers of high fashion, and is in the process of editing her dissertation for a book manuscript.

Last week Beyond Buckskin unveiled the look book during the Reservation Economic Summit in Las Vegas, NE.

The look book is of historic significance for it provides for the first time a platform for Native designers to reclaim and appropriate their own culture. During the launch festivities in Las Vegas several of the designers featured in the book voiced their feelings about being involved in such an important project.

"It was an honor to be involved with this project and it was exciting to get to meet some of the other BBB designers. It was especially motivating to hear about their design inspiration, and reasons why they started their own businesses,” said Kristen Dorsey a Chickasaw. “I feel like Beyond Buckskin has fostered a supportive community of small business owners and designers and I look forward to seeing that community grow," she added.

Dorsey is a designer who creates Native jewelry with a theme inspired by traditional southeastern native designs.

Beyond Buckskin plans to distribute the look book to select museums, libraries, and repositories for future reference.

“It's such an honor to be a part of this milestone in documenting native fashion and to join forces with the most talented & creative native people from across the nation. Everyone involved has the same vision and that is to be progressive for Indian country and to reclaim our imagery and representation,” said Bethany Yellowtail an emerging designer of Crow and Northern Cheyenne dissent who participated in the look book.

Beyond Buckskin can be located at beyondbuckskin.blogspot.com

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at staffwriter2@nsweekly.com)

Copyright permission by Native Sun News