Feminist Designers: SheNative

The Closet Feminist’s second instalment of Feminist Designers interviews Devon Fiddler, Chief Changemaker and Designer for SheNative Goods Inc. SheNative is based out of Saskatoon, and is a socially driven, handbag and accessories brand that aims to empower the Indigenous women.

SheNative_June20161

What inspired you to start your line SheNative?

I started SheNative out of a childhood dream of becoming a designer, my own life experiences as an Indigenous women, and my first career experiences. When I started SheNative, I had no fashion design background, little sewing experience, and went for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics (Aboriginal Public Administration).

After completing my degree, I worked as a Business Development Coordinator, working with clients on reserve who wanted to start a business. This sparked my passion of entrepreneurship, and brought my childhood dream swirling back into my head. I saw other entrepreneurs starting companies with a mission to have a positive social impact, and I decided that I wanted to start a fashion business that gives back.

I grew up out of a lot of negative experiences that many Indigenous women in Canada face, including seeing and experiencing family violence, being taken advantage of, domestic violence and more. I still see many of my friends and family struggle with what they went through; these experiences are so common among Indigenous women.

Through SheNative, I want to bring light into lives by showing the power of positivity, and showing other women that you can find it in yourself to make changes and overcome any negative experience you’ve had. I try to show that myself by practice, living healthy, and following my dream. I try to bring positive inspiration into the lives of others through the initiatives that we create in SheNative (Her 4 Directions Fashion Incubator), inspirational words, and showcasing what other Indigenous women are doing.

SheNative_June20162

SheNative focuses a lot on affirmations, positive thinking, social media campaigns beyond marketing, etc. Are there plans to evolve SheNative into a broader lifestyle brand?

Yes, I think that’s where we are heading with our brand. We are still figuring out what’s working and what’s not working. We are very new, so it takes time to build.

I started out with the idea that I would create very specific products. Initially, I wanted to start a clothing line that was more geared towards professional working women. After consulting with a product development company in Toronto, we found that it didn’t matter what we created: SheNative was going to be a company that empowered Indigenous women.

Initially, SheNative started by designing a handbag collection instead of a clothing line. Working with companies that hold ethical production standards, along with quality workmanship is really important to me.

Since starting, SheNative has really evolved as a brand, from quality handbags to graphic t-shirts. Our line goes from a higher-end to a fairly low price point. We are looking to build more products in the medium price point range. I think becoming a broader lifestyle brand would make the most sense for us moving forward.

SheNative_June2016

What have you learned working on SheNative that you couldn’t have learned anywhere else?

The fashion portion especially has been a big learning curve for me, and I am still learning a lot! I still leave the sewing to those who are best at it. I found the best way to learn is by just jumping in, doing, and being hands-on instead of taking technical courses in design.

For the business-side of things, I’ve entered as many entrepreneurship courses and classes, both online and in classrooms that I can find. I think you have to learn from mistakes along the way and pivot when things are not working.

What is a typical day for you as the head designer and founder of SheNative?

I am currently trying to create a typical day for me. At first it was chaotic; we had a lot of interviews and random media requests during our launch. Then, I started getting speaking requests, especially in the Indigenous community, as well as invitations to many different events like trade shows. At this time, I would often forget to eat, and stay up working on business stuff at all hours of the night.

Now, I’m establishing a bit of a routine. I wake up in the morning, have my breakfast, take my dog out for a walk, check emails, and then head out to our shared studio space. At the studio, I take on whatever tasks come our way from there including operational, sales, design, etc, which takes me to the end of the day; only sometimes do I take evening meetings. I also sit on three committees, so that takes of some of my free time. I now go to sleep at a decent hour, and always make time for myself.

SheNative_June20164

Your brand seems very dynamic with regards to how you reach your customer base—trade shows, craft fairs, farmers markets, pop up shops, conferences, and fashion week in addition to an online shop. How has this versatility affected/impacted SheNative?

We have been exploring what works and doesn’t work [in an attempt to find] our target market. Through this, we have found our target market is different than we thought it would be; you never know until you jump in and try. I have to admit, trying too much at once has had a negative impact on the business. After finding out something doesn’t work, you need to be strong at saying ‘no’, and moving forward with what actually works.

SheNative_June20163

SheNative recently completed a highly successful crowdfunding campaign, congratulations to the SheNative team! Be sure to follow SheNative and watch this exciting Canadian brand grow!

Shop SheNative here

SheNative on Facebook

SheNative Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter

Images by Axis Imagery. All images used with permission by SheNative

Festival Style 2016: On-trend vs. Offensive

Fashionista_VanessaHudgens_festivalstyle

Image above found here

There’s folksy, and then there’s offensive. Denim cut-offs, fringe crop tops, boho braids, Flash Tattoos–sure. But somewhere along the way, the ubiquitous flower crown gave way to other cranial adornments, with attendees sporting bindis (Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Sarah Hyland and Vanessa Hudgens) and feathered headdresses (Poppy Delevingne and Vanessa Hudgens, again).

Appropriation shamers abound online, waking society p to how seriously uncool it is to perpetuate stereotypes and disrespect marginalized cultures through fashion. You can’t just glitter up, toss on a headdress and waltz into Osheaga anymore.

Image above found here.

Literally. The Montreal music festival banned the aboriginal war bonnets out of respect for First Nations people last year. Headdresses are also a no go at Bass Coast in Merritt, B.C., the Edmonton Folk Music Festival and WayHome in Oro-Medonte, Ont.

Us Canucks are mostly solo in our efforts, though. Aside from England’s Glastonbury, which no longer permits the sale of headdresses on its grounds, most of the world’s top multi-day music gatherings have yet to roll out official dress-code policies that prohibit such flippant costuming.

  • from “In Full Loom” by Lauren O’Neil in Flare May 2016

How Distasteful: The Racist Dsquared² Collection Makes Another Appearance in a Canadian Fashion Magazine

Do you remember that hideous, racist collection that Dsquared² sent down the catwalk for their Fall 2015 show? Well Canadian fashion magazines are still apparently into it–Elle Canada showed some pieces from the collection in the fall, and now FASHION is on board.

Scan

In their December editorial “Here Comes the Fuzz” a horrible coat from the racist collection made an appearance. See a scan of the shot I’m referring to above.

Here is what the coat looked like on the runways:

Dsqaured_fall2015_racistcollection

Above: image found here

This collection is the worst, I wish it would go away instead of getting more press. It also made me feels so ashamed that Dsquared² is actually a Canadian label.

Love It: LUXX Ready to Wear Spring 2014

002 001

 

How gorgeous is this dress from the Spring/Summer 2014 collection by LUXX Ready To Wear? This line by Canadian designer Derek Jagodzin-Sky is remarkable in our opinion for several reasons:

– Jagodzin-Sky is Cree, and proudly lets his background inform his beautiful designs.

– Jagodzin-Sky is just 29 years old! He is one of the youngest fashion designers to have his work featured in permanent display in the Royal Alberta Museum–this collection caught the eye of the museum’s curator!

– The label is based out of Edmonton–we love to see designers who make a go of it in their local communities rather than fleeing to Canadian fashion capitals Montreal and Toronto.

–  The beadwork shown on the looks is hand-beaded by women of the Whitefish First Nation.

-So cute: oftentimes models go unnamed whether on the runway or in lookbooks. While the models are anonymous still in the runway shots posted on the LUXX Ready-to-Wear website, there is a small tag that says: “Models: Stunning”. See for yourself by scrolling to the bottom of the page here.

019

Above: Jagodzin-Sky at the end of his show. Image found here.

“I am very proud to be Native and want to show the world how beautiful and regal our culture is. I am going to push this subject for seasons to come, and I am very excited about it.”

– Derek Jagodszin-Sky in “The Talent” by Caroline Gault in Fashion March 2014

Does Anyone Else Feel Weird About This?

By: Emily Yakashiro

Scan

 

Above: A scan from the Fashion October 2013 issue. And yes, hat Hermes scarf to the right of the coat in question is emblazoned with the head of a Native American chief. This page is the worst.

When it comes to Canadian Fashion, arguably nothing is more quintessential than a classic Canadian blanket coat. And anything by Hudson’s Bay, with those classic green, yellow, red, and dark blue-y purple stripes.

Above in the upper left-hand corner you see a picture of a coat that is the product of the Erdem-Hudson’s Bay collaboration. Very ‘Canadian’, and especially so given that this particular company and pattern is also very evocative of small pox blankets and the colonialism in general which took place in Canada (is still taking place, really) during our nation’s early years.

I feel really uncomfortable with the ongoing promotion and selling of goods with this particular design, and I find it weird that something so visually connected to such a shameful, violent piece of Canadian history still enjoys such popularity. Then again, I’m not that surprised because white privilege and historical ignorance tend to go hand in hand…just look at all these happy white people and families smiling and sporting their Hudson’s Bay stripes.

885628180576_main

Above: This coat (not from the Erdem collection) can be yours for $695 + tax.

I mean, yes, visually and speaking and from a purely “fashion” point of view, I love those stripes and colours: it’s bold, heritage-y, and colourful– and I love colourful clothes. The Erdem coat and the peacoat above are lovely and look like they would be nice and cozy come winter, they really do. But as this site has been exploring since December, fashion is never really just “fashion”, it is political. Clothing means something. How and why clothing is produced, who buys it, and what it says about identity and history is important.  I mean, the fact that the peacoat above is $695 and yet 50% of the First Nations children in Canada live in poverty says something about this country, our priorities, and our continuing project of colonial violence which is inextricably caught up in the wheels of capitalism.

Bottom line: I just can’t get over the legacy symbolized by those stripes, no matter how nice the coat or how famous the designer, it is almost like a coat emblazoned with hate speech to my line of thinking. Perhaps it’s just me.

 

 

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...