• Kevin Luo

Bethany Yellowtail: A blend of Native American fashion with contemporary culture

A member of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne tribe, an Indigenous activist, and one of the most well-known indigenous designers, Bethany Yellowtail, founder of the label B.Yellowtail, has been using her artistic talent in fashion to fight against unfair treatment towards Native Americans.

Image of Bethany Yellowtail via KCET

Yellowtail participated in the Women's March and the Standing Rock protest in 2017; utilizing her power, she created wearable art on shirts, which she dubbed as "Protector Gear," for the protestors. The ones on the front lines are not protestors, they are protectors, and she donated the shirt profits to fund the movement. Similarly, during the Women's March, Yellowtail created a limited silk scarf named Women Warrior; on the scarf itself, Yellowtail incorporated a print showing the scene of Crow culture's war bonnet dance. According to Yellowtail, “It’s important that fashion gets involved in a way that’s not just for a trend," and she sees fashion as a powerful tool that can create a lasting impact. Later that year, Yellowtail released a capsule collection that honors her ancestors by incorporating traditional elements onto skirts and dresses. Through her reinterpretation of these pieces, Yellowtail aims to bring attention and pay respect to women frontline defenders within the indigenous community.

Image of "Women Warrior" scar via L.A Times

Image of the Standing Rock protest via Tribal College Journal

In order to bring together indigenous artists, Yellowtailk also launched a retail platform called the B.Yellowtail Collective. With such a platform, she can, “share authentic indigenous creations with the world” that were created through traditional methods that have been passed down for generations. Yellowtail hopes that her platform can help underrepresented artists sell their pieces for what they are actually worth and help them kick-start their career.

Image of B.Yellowtail 2018 offerings via VOGUE

The fashion label B.Yellowtail was originally established in 2014 after Yellowtail graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising(FIDM) in 2009. Over the years, the mission of Yellowtail's label, which is to provide support and representation to the indigenous people of America, has remained unchanged. Recently, as COVID-19 has hit various areas in the world, Yellowtail was able to work with Patagonia to produce and distribute over 7000+ masks to indigenous groups. Moreover, through Yellowtail's partnership with World Central Kitchen, Orenda Tribe, and Jewel, they were able to package and deliver 47,000 care boxes filled with necessities such as food and medicine. It is undoubtedly amazing to see labels like Yellowtail succeeding under today's world, and you can shop Bethany Yellowtail's line at B.Yellowtail.

Image of B.Yellowtail's 2017 summer offerings via L.A Times

Image of B.Yellowtail 2018 offerings via VOGUE

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