Beyond Buckskin Boutique – genuine Native

By Kate | Women
Posted Jun 13, 2012

The new online, all-Native boutique that breaks past the typical “Indian costume”


They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery and for some designers, to have a design or item replicated in fast fashion means ‘you’ve arrived’. For others, however, this appropriation, the academic term for ‘borrowing elements’ in the creation of a new work, is unconscionable. A vocal opponent of fashion appropriating Native American symbolism, styles and representations is Dr. Jessica R. Metcalfe. Realizing that blogging created an outlet to not only counteract mainstream media but to also highlight the talented crafts and artists in Native American communities in the U.S., Metcalfe started a blog titled Beyond Buckskin in 2009.

Metcalfe, a Turtle Mountain Chippewa from North Dakota has always been drawn to fashion and the intersection of Native American cultures, artistry and fashion. An interest that led her to write her dissertation for her PhD. in American Indian Studies on Native American designers of high fashion. “Fashion is one of those things that is endlessly interesting to me,” Metcalfe revealed. “And when you throw Native American cultures and artistry into the mix it becomes 10 times more interesting.”

And now Metcalfe has launched the Beyond Buckskin Boutique (BBB). “To me, Native fashion is clothing, jewelery and accessories made by Native American artist and designers who have connections to Native American communities,” says Metcalfe. “They are proud of who they are and they are dedicated to creativity,” she continues “This is central to the continuity of Native cultures and it has often been said that creativity is our tradition.” Now, through BBB, conscious consumers have access to this talented pool of award-winning artists and designers, in an all-native context that breaks past the typical “Indian costume’ expectations and presents exciting work.

The new shopping portal features designers like award-winning Navajo artist Orlando Dugi, who has been creating wearable art for over 20 years. Known for creating elegant evening accessories, dresses, purses, and jewelry, Dugi’s work is contemporary and highlights the subtle differences of color and texture. This handbag is done in a single bead stitch, the sterling silver hardware is all hand made and the clasp is set with mabe pearl.

This backless sequin cocktail dress was designed by Bethany Yellowtail. Yellowtail was born and raised in southern Montana and is a proud member of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Tribes. Yellowtail’s designs are inspired by her love for her Native culture and European haute couture. She attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) and currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is developing her own label and working with the clothing company Baby Phat.

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