Business owners of the jewellery and design company, Indi City, debuted their fashion collections at Paper Street on 8 Ave. S.W. that they will also be presenting in Tokyo on a trade mission. The event featured musicals guests, had a great turn out with all proceeds going to pay for the trip across the Pacific.
Models wearing colorful Indi City collection with earrings and hats they are bringing to Tokyo. PHOTO: FLOYD BLACK HORSE
Angel Aubichon and Alexandra Manitopyes are owners of the Indigenous owned business, Indi City. By sharing their designs and collaborating with an international market they hope to open new doors for the fashion and design company.
“It's a global exchange. We're stepping off of our home soil and we're seeing how everybody else responds to Indigenous fashion now. Fashion is a really important way to share messages. It's very subtle, so subtle that we can share it with other cultures without it being too in your face. But still giving recognition to the stuff that our ancestors had to go through to be here today so that we could share this art.”
Indi City is doing contemporary Indigenous art by using modern space outside ceremonial grounds to discuss something considered sacred. Designs they use translate into what that means for newer generations. For instance, alphabets from various Indigenous languages are used intricately in the making of beaded jewellery and hats. For Manitopyes, Indigeneity is also about facing cultural appropriation outside their homes.
“In different parts of the world we're portrayed as an extinct culture like we don't exist anymore. We're coming out loud and strong as people like a rising nation showing our art in our designs and very proud. Some confidence that we've been without for generations and now we're bringing it back.”
Manitopyes adds, “We're stepping up and taking the rights to own our designs and our own artistry and sharing it on a global platform. It's exciting.”
Metis design on a floppy hat make impressions (top); earrings with Indi City logo are part of the jewellery items for sale. PHOTO: FLOYD BLACK HORSE
The government agency, Canada Trade Missions provides “opportunities to create export partnerships,” as well as business-to-business transactions benefitting participants. Helping to build global relationships for city businesses makes access to top foreign markets easier.
CEO and owner of Dream PK Modelling Rodrick Rabbitskin recently moved to the city aiming to recruit Indigenous youth from Calgary and begin to expand his operation. With Executive Assistant Nathan Slawinski, the pair were thrilled with the show and the possibilities that exist.
“I just moved from Saskatchewan and came straight for the fashion show. What I'm most looking forward to is gaining so much new beautiful talent from Treaty 7 territory.”
Many who attended the show supported it in different ways. They came to volunteer, model, network and for some, just a good old fashion mingle. Kehiy Eagletail, 18, from the Tsuut’ina reserve outside Calgary, came after seeing an Instagram post that drew him to the event.
“I love seeing my Indigenous people strive to do something with their lives. Indigenizing the society, the fashion industry. It's actually really great.”
Powwow Styles and Native Diva Creations also presented couture at the fundraiser, worn by models on the runway. International music artist, Drezus, was the evening’s highlight followed by up and coming band NDN Family.
NDN Family performed at the end of night for a room filled with people ready to cut loose. Trew Awattsinaaw, also known as T.A., is a group member who defines his genre as pow-wow rap.
“Pretty much we rap about a bunch of Native issues.” T.A. also says, “We make real bouncy music to get other genres into our performances. We want everybody to listen to our music just not N ative people.”
NDN Family includes LB Savage, K Dub C, Styles B and himself. They are considered the main cast. What sets this group apart, says T.A., is they are also “a variety of different people from all nations” that make up their group. T.A.’s arm tattoos express his Blackfoot indigeneity.
For owners Aubichon and Manitopyes, they feel presenting their culture is tackling perceptions of who Indigenous people are in North America.
Manitopyes says while a lot of their designs are contemporary, they’re also “bringing back old things but in a new tradition.” In addition, the duo emphasize the importance of oral history.
“Everything we do is rooted in story, oral teachings. That's deep rooted. It's a visual of the oral stories is what it is. And our understanding and our interpretation of those oral stories and traditions.”
The fundraiser is already in partnership with Indig Inc. whose Indigenous marketplace highlights stories for Indigenous artisans and small business sellers. The trade mission is set for the summer of 2019.
Paper St. marks the site of all the action. The restaurant is on 8th ave S.W. serving streetstyle food such as tacos, steak and burgers. PHOTO: FLOYD BLACK HORSE
- By Floyd Black Horse