Whether they’re walking the catwalk or posing for the cover of voguethese rising Indigenous models and brands are redefining beauty standards (and looking good doing it).
In an industry that has always pushed to keep them quiet, these Indigenous models are breaking fashion boundaries. Whether on the catwalk at New York Fashion Week or on the cover of voguethese aboriginal role models are making their voices heard, allowing aboriginal children to see themselves reflected in the fashion industry, perhaps for the first time.
Plus, we feature some of our favorite Indigenous fashion brands, all of which work to showcase the work of Indigenous artists and designers with the goal of preserving culture while offering tailoring.
Like many young models, Valentine made her way to the mainstream after catching the eye of modeling agency Vision via an Instagram ad. It was clear they had something special and they pulled it off. They claimed their position in the industry by walking in a Marc Jacobs show alongside Gigi Hadid, and they’ve been killing the game ever since. They’ve walked for Valentino and Gucci and aren’t slowing down. Their bold beauty and undeniable talent will conquer the world at any moment.
Cherokee Jack is no stranger to the spotlight. With a makeup artist for mom, he often found himself modeling even as a young child for companies such as Target and Best Buy that needed a cute face to elevate their campaigns. As he got older, however, his charm and talent brought him to Ignite Models, where he signed on and began his career as a professional model. His first editorial work made him pose for Man’s magazine about the city, a publication known for featuring influential men in the entertainment industry. Cherokee Jack took off from there, landing gigs with Banana Republic, Askov Finlayson, Gap and Nike. Attendees at last year’s New York Fashion Week may have seen him walking in Gabriela Hearst’s show (you’re in luck).
As a child, Quannah Chasinghorse was enamored with the glamor of catwalk fashions such as Dior, Chanel and Prada which seemed to exude effortless beauty. While she adored the fashion industry, she couldn’t help but feel like young women who looked like her were making fewer appearances in editorials and high-end runways. Fast forward to the present and Quannah is making waves as a champion for Indigenous rights and a top model on the runway. After signing with IMG Models, Quannah began performing track after track, wowing crowds with her stunning charm and gorgeous Han Gwichin facial tattoos. She continues to merge fashion and passion through projects such as her Calvin Klein 2020 campaign which highlighted the importance of voting and her appearance at the Met Gala in a stunning dress showcasing traditional Indigenous jewelry. Superwoman is real, and she looks like this:
Quannah Chasinghorse at the Met Gala (image courtesy of Initiated)
Denali White Elk
It’s quite rare to see a model land a vogue cover as their first job, but that’s exactly what 20-year-old Native model Denali White Elk did. After being discovered by IMG Models, Denali entered the modeling industry in 2020 and exploded from there. Vogue Italy came across photos of Denali on IMG’s social media and just couldn’t miss the chance to feature them. They’ve since graced many catwalks and appeared in many editorials, and they won’t be backing down anytime soon.
Image reproduced with the kind permission of The fashion corner
From an In-N-Out worker to the coverage of Vogue Mexico, Celeste Romero showed us how success is earned. After being scouted straight out of high school and working as a part-time model and part-time restaurant worker, Celeste put blood, sweat and tears into a dream that would materialize shortly after when she was told. reportedly asked to walk for Gabriela Hearst in New York Fashion Week. Apart from her Vogue Mexico score, she also graced us with her presence in Chloé, Emilio Pucci and many others.
Image reproduced with the kind permission of NYC Model Mergers
As we celebrate Indigenous models on the catwalks of tomorrow, we also want to recognize Indigenous brands and labels that are making a name for themselves within the fashion industry.
With the motto “Inspired Natives, not Native-inspired”, Eighth Generation is a brand advocating the representation of authentic Native work rather than work that simply borrows from Native culture. Founded by the Snoqualmie Tribe in Seattle, this brand features everything from jewelry, accessories, textiles and more, from some of the industry’s top Indigenous artists, such as Louie Gong (Nooksack), Sarah Agaton Howes (Anishinaabe) and Michelle Lowden (Acoma Pueblo).
Images reproduced with the kind permission of Eighth generation
Founded by designer Din Amy Denet Deal, 4Kinship is a fashion brand that aims to protect and preserve the earth while delivering beautiful fashion. From upcycled clothing and accessories to rare vintage pieces, this Indigenous-led brand is causing a stir in the fashion industry by showing other brands that sustainable fashion is not only a feasible option, but a necessary one.
Images reproduced with the kind permission of 4Kinship
ThunderVoice Hat Co.
All it takes is a bold vision and a good hat. Founded by ThunderVoice Eagle (Navajo and Totonac), ThunderVoice Hat Co. was created as a reminder of the iconic Navajo Brim hat that has passed through the ages. Each hat is vintage, handcrafted, steamed and shaped, creatively designed and lovingly crafted by an Indigenous artist, but that’s not even half of it. After branching out into apparel and accessories, ThunderVoice Hat Co. is building an enduring vintage and slow fashion brand that operates solely to preserve the culture,
Images reproduced with the kind permission of ThunderVoice Hat Co.
Husband and wife and co-founders Erik Brodt and Amanda Bruegl wanted to create a brand that preserved and celebrated their collective Ojibwe, Oneida and Mohican heritage. The resulting Ginew is the first Native American-owned denim collection. Referring to themselves as “Native Americana”, their apparel and outerwear collections have become the pinnacle of western and native fusion fashion.
Images reproduced with the kind permission of Ginew
Lawrence have a nice day
Santa Fe Indian Market Champion, famous fashion designer, Treaty Indian with the Sweet Grass Cree First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada, and brand owner Lauren Good Day is…a pretty remarkable person. With award-winning designs and artwork that have been featured in numerous museums, Good Day has fused fashion and art into one of the finest clothing collections. Her wearable art is available worldwide, along with her prints and accessories, and isn’t even close to being done gaining momentum.
Images reproduced with the kind permission of Lawrence have a nice day
The journey of uplifting and learning Indigenous voices is never over. From Indigenous role models to Indigenous history to Indigenous book recommendations and beyond, we are committed to educating ourselves and others about the beauty and complexity of Indigenous culture. Head over to our Native American Heritage Month homepage to continue your own process of learning (and unlearning).
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