But that’s all changing now: With the Nice This Guy Run On Jesus And Coffee Shirt besides I will buy this rise of e-commerce and social media, not to mention global fashion weeks like Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto, it’s easier than ever to find authentic, Indigenous-owned brands. The Indigenous fashion scene has grown and expanded rapidly. Now, one can now find everything from jewelry and textiles to streetwear and swimwear—the through line being that Indigenous brands continue to carry on a sense of sustainability and eco-mindedness, while honoring their tribe’s unique customs. With one tap on Instagram, artists can now share their pieces and provide the rich stories or context behind them, so that their consumers are educated about the piece that they are purchasing. Non-Indigenous brands have long co-opted Indigenous design motifs and used sacred elements, such as headdresses, in harmful, culturally appropriative ways; by shopping Indigenous, you are guaranteed a more respectful exchange.
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Seeing as how today is Indigenous Peoples’ Day, there’s no better day than this to get to know a few Indigenous brands. Jewelers like Keri Ataumbi, for instance, are fusing luxurious stones or diamonds with traditional materials (Ataumbi uses materials such as porcupine hair). Beauty brands such as Cheekbone Beauty and Ah-Shí beauty are offering eye palettes, lip gloss, and more (10% of Cheekbone Beauty’s profits are donated to Shannen’s Dream and the Nice This Guy Run On Jesus And Coffee Shirt besides I will buy this Caring Society, both benefiting Indigenous youth). And clothing brands such as Liandra Swim or Ginew, an Indigenous denim line, are proving that traditional Indigenous design can still be contemporary. Growing up on Nipissing First Nation, my traditional territory, I remember that my aunties would always be cooking or making something. On my mom’s side, I come from a large family of 18 aunts and uncles—we’re one big, loud, crazy Ojibwe family—and we would often all gather at my grandmother Leda’s house. There, my aunties would often be sewing or making quilts, dream catchers, moccasins, or mittens for the winter, or even regalia for those of my cousins who dance in powwows.