Upcoming "Paul Frank Presents" Limited Edition Collection in partnership with four Native American artists
By Saban Brands
Drawing inspiration from their communities, each artist is bringing to life a visual identity with roots from their culture. Louie Gong, a designer from the Nooksack tribe who creates custom drawings and paintings on materials, is creating a silk-screened canvas tote bag for the collection. Candace Halcro, from the Plains Cree/Metis tribes, is skilled with the classic Native American beading technique and will showcase her talents on authentic Paul Frank sunglasses. Dustin Martin, a graphic T-shirt fashion designer from the Navajo tribe, is using a phrase taught to him by his grandfather to inspire the prints of the famous Paul Frank character, Julius. And Autumn Dawn Gomez, a jewelry designer from the Comanche/Taos tribes, is creating accessories inspired by various landscapes, which have impacted her life.
"We're honored to be working with such talented and enthusiastic designers for this fashion and accessories collection," said Elie Dekel, President of Saban Brands. "Each artist has really captured the whimsical and fun energy of the Paul Frank brand and incorporated it into their designs for the line. We are so excited to share these items with Paul Frank fans very soon!"
By Booth Moore
The whimsical Los Angeles-based Paul Frank, the brand that turned a sock monkey into a fashion statement, is collaborating with four different tribes in regions across the country in what seems to be an authentic way, giving artists the opportunity to design accessories for a special “Paul Frank Presents” collection launching in August on PaulFrank.com.
I presume the LA Times story was based on the press release. Oddly, something seemed to be missing from both articles. What could it be?
The Paul Frank x Native Designers Collaboration is Here!
By Adrienne Keene
I’m about to go all PhD on you here, so bear with me, but Dr. Bryan Brayboy at ASU often uses the term “Genesis Amnesia” (from Pierre Bourdieu) to discuss how, especially in regards to Indigenous and colonized peoples, we often forget the beginning. Everything becomes normalized–the power structures, the historical narrative taught in schools, policies towards Indigenous Peoples–and society accepts this as “the way it’s always been” and stops wondering why. Hegemonic power structures rely on us forgetting the beginning. Native peoples are “poor” and “alcoholics” because they are “lazy” or “unmotivated,” not because of centuries of systematic policies that have worked to put us in this position. Hipster headdresses are a fashion trend because they’re “fun” or “playful,” not because centuries of colonialism have painted Native traditions and spirituality as inferior and stripped the objects of their sacred origins, leaving them up for grabs.
So what does that have to do with Paul Frank? As much as it feels uncomfortable, we can’t forget the beginning. We can’t move away from the fact that this collaboration was born out of community mobilization and Native activism against a hurtful, racist party. Because if we erase that beginning, 20 years from now, Paul Frank is just seen as the happy company that collaborates with Natives–which is great, don’t get me wrong–but that takes away the power of what has been accomplished here. Remembering the origins reminds us of the inherent power structures in society (and therefore the fashion industry), that it took hundreds of angry voices, Native and non-Native, working together to move us forward this far. Remembering the beginning is how we continue to move forward together. History is written by those in power, so we need to continue to push to have our version shared and not forgotten.
By Booth Moore
"While I am undeniably thrilled about the announcement and all that it represents, the press release failed to mention the various factors that led to this collaboration," Metcalfe writes. "Last September, the lifestyle brand Paul Frank hosted a "powwow"-inspired fashion event that featured some questionable party favors and activities."
"After a sizable backlash from people from Native American communities and our allies, the brand removed over a thousand images of the event from their Facebook page, and the president of the company, Elie Dekel, reached out to myself and Adrienne Keene of Native Appropriations. He reached out to the two of us, I think, because we had been the loudest in pointing out the obvious racism behind this event ... and so it began--the gesturing to apologize for this major slip-up," Metcalfe writes.
Although Paul Frank's collaboration with Native American artists will undoubtedly help bring the work of these talented young people to a wider audience, the company should have been forthcoming in press materials about the journey it took to get here. Because what is corporate responsibility without full disclosure?
For more on the subject, see Paul Frank Vows to Do Better and Paul Frank's Racist "Powwow."
Below: "Paul Frank parent company Saban Brands President Elie Dekel, surrounded by products featuring Julius the Monkey at the company's office in Century City on June 7, 2011." (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)