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"[The fashion] takes something thought that is considered incredibly sacred and important and powerful in communities, and really trivializes that and attempts to take away its power by saying that it's something that anyone can have access to and anyone can walk around and wear at any time," Keene says. "Really, it's something that should be reserved for well respected leaders and people who have earned the headdress."
Keene and Metcalfe both say there are still ways for designers to weave Native inspiration into their work and that a solution might be incredibly simple: conversation.
"If these companies that are using disrespectful imagery had talked to one Native person they probably would have rethought the way that they're doing things," Keene says. "It goes back to that idea of us just being invisible in most peoples eyes, that wouldn't cross most people's minds if they're designing a line that has native influences that they should talk to some real living native people. and so I think that's where it needs to start is the conversation."
Keene points out that success stories exist when companies like Nike have avoided public relations nightmares and found popular support instead by consulting with Native designers and athletes to create its N7 line.
Beyond Buckskin Boutique"I am starting to see this shift and this change around discussing issue of cultural appropriation, specifically in fashion, so I'm hopeful that this is a conversation that this is going to continue and that things will continue to improve and change," Keene says.
Beyond Buckskin Boutique
Giving people and companies the chance to connect directly with Native people, including designers who want to collaborate, is the idea behind projects like Metcalfe's recently launched Beyond Buckskin Boutique which aims to promote the work of Native designers both to companies and directly to the public.
"These designers exist, they're really talented, very creative and if you want to do something with the 'new trend,' collaborate with a native artist," Metcalfe said. "It'll add so much to your collection as opposed to just recycling the same crap over and over again."
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@NativeApprops @beyondbuckskin thank you both!
@phxculture @beyondbuckskin Thanks so much! It's a great article!