THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON THE MEDIUM WEBSITE ON 28 APRIL 2019.
Indigenous designer Bethany Yellowtail takes it back old school
Earlier this month, the ready-to-wear fashion label B. Yellowtail unveiled its Spring/Summer 2019 vintage-inspired collection dedicated to Basahkaales (Crow word for grandmothers) and championed as the company’s “most sustainable collection to date.” Sustainable in that the fabrics used to create the collection come from deadstock.
“Deadstock is leftover surplus fabric that comes from textile mills, garment factories, and fashion houses that no longer have use for them.”
“Deadstock is leftover surplus fabric that comes from textile mills, garment factories, and fashion houses that no longer have use for them.” B.Yellowtail wrote on its website, “By re-purposing them with a beautiful new life, we are keeping them out of landfills and minimizing our carbon footprint.”
The eleven-piece collection features maxi dresses, ruffled tops, and flowy skirts (available in a color palette of baby blue, white, pink, and cream) fashioned in the style of prairie floral dresses which is currently trending on the runways of fashion week. New York designer and CFDA-Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist, Batsheva Hay released a similar S/S 2019 collection last fall.
In the promo video for the collection, indigenous models Beckah Boykin and Johnny Sequoyah, parade around in a luscious field frolicking and smelling flowers on a warm sunny day. The opening montage sequence to the hit 1970s TV show “Little House on the Prairie” comes to mind.
The collection is a departure from B.Yellowtail’s usual Native-themed collections. In fact, the re-imagined ribbon skirts within the collection are the only indigenous-themed items. Even the dresses, named after the team’s real-life grandmothers, have a nostalgic countryside ring to them: Christine, Agnes, Caroline, and Cecelia.
On social media, reaction to the collection ranged from excitement to slight criticism:
“Guess I’m one of the grandmothers, dresses of my youth. Gorgeous,” wrote Facebook follower Gene Elaine Rodgers.
“You gals nailed it! These are so beautiful,” added Jean Marie.
“Reminds me of nohkompan (my late grandmother). She wore hand stitched floral skirts and tops. Fond memories,” wrote Lori A. Tootoosis on Instagram.
Facebook Follower Lana Potts liked the collection but confessed, “These are nice but I am a big fan of your more Indigenous inspired designs.”
Bonnie Bowen left a blunt but very astute observation, “Holy moly! Who can afford these? Movie stars? They surely aren’t going to dress this modestly. Wow!”
Prices for the collection range from $95.00 to $325.00.
Although these designs don’t necessarily scream indigenous (does indigenous fashion have to live in a vacuum?), Bethany Yellowtail continues to be a Native fashion trailblazer and this sustainably-motivated collection only adds to the ever-growing tapestry of contemporary indigenous style.