April 15, 2012

Beyond Buckskin To Launch Online Boutique

Dear readers,

On May 7, 2012, Beyond Buckskin will launch the Beyond Buckskin Boutique – an online gallery store specializing in Native-made fashion, jewelry, and accessories. The site will serve as an extension of this blog.

All items sold through this premier Native fashion boutique will be hand-selected by Beyond Buckskin author, Jessica R. Metcalfe, Ph.D. (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) and will represent a variety of styles, regions, and price ranges.

Beyond Buckskin began in 2009 as a site dedicated to all things related to Native fashion. It has steadily grown over the past two years with a dedicated readership and has developed into a one-stop-site where readers can discover new designers, see images from the latest events, learn about the historical evolution of Native American clothing, and discuss critical issues in the field of fashion, especially as it pertains to cultural appropriation.

Beyond Buckskin is establishing an online store that will serve as an extension of the website and will provide a space for people to buy Native-made fashion and jewelry from a trusted web source. Readers can learn about new artists, and then, with a few clicks, they can also purchase clothing or accessories made by the artists.

Artists featured on the Beyond Buckskin Boutique shop site will represent the following categories:
  • FASHION: At the core of the site, Native American fashion designers create art for the body using needle, thread, and fabric.
  • NATIVE POP JEWELRY: These super fresh Native artists create jewelry in bright and vibrant colors. Inspired by their cultural heritages, they also infuse a keen sense of pop culture into their designs. 
  • STREETWEAR: Several grassroots Native-run t-shirt companies have emerged in the past decade, fueling a movement of underground street fashion that encourages people to wear representations of Native cultures made by Native artists.
  • COUTURE JEWELRY: Breaking past the usual in Native American jewelry, these artists combine historical styles, timeless stories, and contemporary symbols to create wearable art for the body. 
  • ACCESSORIES: Add a touch of culture to any wardrobe with scarves, purses, hats or shoes made by Native artists. Inspired by historical designs, contemporary powwow colors, or international styles, these artists remix expected designs and create new items to jazz up any closet. 
  • BEYOND BUCKSKIN MERCHANDISE: Working with other artists and scholars, we bring you Beyond Buckskin merchandise in the form of stickers, prints, t-shirts, publications, and vintage items. All proceeds go directly towards the upkeep of this website.

Selected artists will receive a featured spot on Beyond Buckskin, where their art and designs will be actively promoted and marketed. Short videos of each artist and their work will also be added to the store site. Inclusion in the online boutique will provide the opportunity for artists to increase and diversify their client base. Also, this site will offer a much needed space for buyers to continually find new fashion made by Native American artists.

Additional goals of this new boutique site include the following:
  • REDEFINE ‘NATIVE FASHION’: To create a new definition of what is ‘Native fashion’ and ‘Native style’ – as defined by Native American artists, and not by Native-inspired designers. 
  • CREATE CONNECTIONS: To connect the makers of Native fashion with the buyers and wearers of Native fashion with a new online boutique space. 
  •  DEVELOP LOCAL ECONOMIES: To encourage small businesses to grow – especially those located on rural reservations – through internet sales. 
  •  LAUNCH CAREERS: To create a platform where emerging and established artists can bring their careers to new levels. 
  •  INCREASE CLIENT BASE: To build a strong boutique site that is updated frequently with new items and attracts regular daily traffic and increases the overall number of people who buy Native-made fashion.

Beyond Buckskin serves as a crucial component in the fight for Native self-determination in the cultural sense. In effect, the artists represented on Beyond Buckskin reclaim Native America's right to determine what is ‘Native,’ ‘authentic,’ and ‘traditional’ when it comes to fashion. As we have seen in recent popular white culture and hipster movements, these ideas and labels have been misappropriated and misused. This situation has created important conversations about issues of cultural appropriation, but the debate has also stolen attention from the Native cultures and individual artists who produce ‘Native’ designs, clothing and accessories.

This new boutique provides a means to bring Native artists and their work to the forefront by providing a space to present the people and history behind the clothing, fashion, jewelry, and accessories. It gives them the opportunity to say “This is Native fashion.” With the help of this site, Native artists and designers will be able to create new markets for themselves by broadening the set of images associated with ‘Native America.’

If you would like your work represented in the Beyond Buckskin Boutique, please contact Jessica R. Metcalfe at beyondbuckskin@gmail.com for more information.