A few weeks ago in South Dakota, Edison Ritchie revealed his Revolution Couture fashion line inspired by his Native American heritage – but none of the major fashion magazines covered it.
Ritchie is a South Dakota native, hailing from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and his clothing line is a stunning reflection of Native American style and tradition with an edgy modern twist. From a career in hair and makeup, Ritchie made the foray into fashion and debuted his recent collection at Portland Fashion Week last September before showcasing at Native Fashion Week in South Dakota.
“Since September, Ritchie’s line of women’s and men’s clothing has made its way onto the streets of New York City, the U.S. capitol and into many top fashion magazines,” reports the Rapid City Journal. “The line is a mixture of street and native punk, with a pretty intense and high-energy vibe.”
Ritchie told the Rapid City Journal that his line “is bringing a lot of light and exposure to South Dakota and Native Country’s creativity.”
And he hopes that Revolution Couture will inspire more Native Americans to get involved in the arts and pursue careers that explore their creativity. “There’s so much going on in the world right now that can be exposed through art,” he said. “I’m local and Native, I’m education, I’m empowering and inspiring through my line and I’m coming home to show people that they can do it also.”
But Native American fashion is a sensitive subject, which may be why the event garnered next to no attention in the fashion world, despite it being relevant to both the fashion world and Native American culture.
The lack of coverage isn’t all that surprising though. As a culture, we’re still not sure how to respond to – let alone wear – Native culture and fashion. Musician Pharrell (you know, Mr. Happy) – the guy that everyone loves – was recently called out for wearing a Native American headdress, which is a sacred garment worn in battle and by Native tribe chiefs. It’s not something people throw on to make a trip down to the market. Pharrell apologized and even claims to be “part Native American,” as if that would somehow make it less awkward (made it even weirder though!), but he wasn’t the first celebrity to co-opt Native American fashion distastefully.
And of course, there’s the national debate over the appropriation of Native Americans in sports, particularly the case of the Washington Redskins mascot and name. If you haven’t seen “The Daily Show” spot on it that Jason Jones did, it’s worthy of your undivided attention. As much as we seem to love the original Americans, we can’t quite grasp how offensive some of our actions are, sports team legacy or not.
Still, the nascent Native American fashion scene is up and coming, calling on traditional designs and inspiration with a minimalist undertone. And if we do want to show our respect for these cultures, we can start by celebrating their art and fashion.
Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
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Images via Revolution Couture