September 06, 2012

Native designer joins Baby Phat

Designer Bethany Yellowtail: On the Fashion Fast Track

By Jessica R. MetcalfeThe fashion industry. It is a fast-paced world with complex inner workings that few of us get to witness, and even fewer of us get to shape it. Who decides the latest trends? Who creates the garments that show up on clothing racks in malls and department stores? Who are the faces behind the labels?

Whoever these “taste-makers” may be, one thing is certain: Few Native Americans have played a major role in the international fashion industry, especially considering the recent Tribal Trend that places tacky American Indian stereotypes at its core (and next to zero profits go back to Native artists or communities who supposedly “inspire” the trend).

But one young Native fashion designer hopes to change all that.

Bethany Yellowtail is a proud member of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Tribes, and she recently accepted a new position at a major fashion company, Kellwood, whose clothing fills the racks at department stores such as Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Dillards, and Macy’s. Yellowtail was hired as the first patternmaker with the Baby Phat division on the design team. Most of us are familiar with this urban-inspired women’s fashion line that uses a sleek cat as the brand logo—and now they’ve got a young, hip, hardworking, creative Native to add to their team.
Comment:  For more on Native fashion, see "Fashion Heat" at Indian Market and National Aboriginal Fashion Week.

Below:  "Bethany Yellowtail with Mariah Watchman, Umatilla, who competed on America's Next Top Model. Photo taken by Thosh Collins at the Jason Ward for Congress event in Billings, Montana."

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