Whether they're walking the runway or posing for the cover of Vogue, these rising Native models and brands are redefining beauty standards (and looking darn good while doing it).
In an industry that has historically pushed to keep them silent, these Native models are breaking boundaries within fashion. Whether it be on the New York Fashion Week runway or the cover of Vogue, these Native models are making their voices heard, allowing Native children to see themselves reflected within the fashion industry, perhaps for the first time.
Plus, we're featuring some of our favorite Native fashion labels, all of whom are working to spread the work of Native artists and designers in an effort to preserve culture while providing couture.
Like many young models, Valentine made their way to the mainstream after capturing the eyes of Vision modeling agency through an Instagram ad. It was clear there was something special about them, and they shot to success. They staked their claim in the industry walking in a Marc Jacobs show alongside Gigi Hadid, and have been slaying the game ever since. They have walked for Valentino and Gucci and are not slowing down. Their bold beauty and undeniable talent will be taking over the world anytime now.
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Cherokee Jack is no stranger to the spotlight. With a makeup artist for a mother, he often found himself modeling even as a young child for companies such as Target and Best Buy that needed a cute face to uplift their campaigns. As he grew older, however, his charm and talent took him to Ignite Models, where he signed and started his career as a professional model. His first editorial job had him posing for Man About Town Magazine, a publication known for showcasing influential men in the entertainment industry. Cherokee Jack took off from there, landing gigs with Banana Republic, Askov Finlayson, Gap, and Nike. Attendees of this past year's New York Fashion Week may have seen him on the runway in Gabriela Hearst's show (lucky you).
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As a child, Quannah Chasinghorse was enamored with the glamour of runway shows such as Dior, Chanel, and Prada that seemed to exude effortless beauty. While she adored the fashion industry, she could not help but feel like young women that looked like her were making fewer appearances on high-end editorials and runways. Fast forward to the present and Quannah is making waves as a champion for Indigenous rights and as a high-end model on the runway. After signing with IMG Models, Quannah began walking runway after runway, wowing crowds with her stunning charm and beautiful Han Gwich’in facial tattoos. She continues to merge fashion and passion through projects such as her 2020 Calvin Klein campaign that stressed the importance of voting and her appearance in at the Met Gala in a stunning dress highlighting traditional Native jewelry. Superwoman is real, and she looks like this:
Quannah Chasinghorse at the Met Gala (image courtesy of Insider)
Denali White Elk
It's pretty rare to see a model land a Vogue cover as their first job, but 20-year-old Indigenous model Denali White Elk did just that. After being discovered by IMG Models, Denali entered the modeling industry in 2020 and skyrocketed from there. Vogue Italia came across Denali's photos on IMG's social channels, and simply could not skip on the chance to feature them. They have since gone on to walk many a runway and appear in many an editorial, and they are not backing down anytime soon.
Image courtesy of The Fashion Spot
From an In-N-Out worker to the cover of Vogue Mexico, Celeste Romero showed us how success is won. Getting scouted right out of high school and working as a part-time model and part-time restaurant worker, Celeste put blood, sweat, and tears into a dream that would materialize shortly after when she was asked to walk the runway for Gabriela Hearst in New York Fashion Week. Aside from her Vogue Mexico score, she has also graced us with her presence in Chloe, Emilio Pucci, and many more.
Image courtesy of Fusions Model NYC
As we celebrate the Native models walking the runways of tomorrow, we also want to acknowledge the Native brands and labels that are taking a stand within the fashion industry.
With the motto, "inspired Natives, not Native-inspired," Eighth Generation is a brand advocating for the representation of authentic Native work over work that simply borrows from Native culture. Founded by the Snoqualmie Tribe in Seattle, this brand offers everything from jewelry to accessories to textiles and more from some of the industry's top Native artists, such as Louie Gong (Nooksack), Sarah Agaton Howes (Anishinaabe), and Michelle Lowden (Acoma Pueblo).
Founded by Diné designer Amy Denet Deal, 4Kinship is a fashion brand that aims to protect and preserve the earth while providing gorgeous fashion. From upcycled clothing and accessories to rare vintage pieces, this Native-led brand is making a big splash in the fashion industry by showing other brands that sustainable fashion is not only a feasible option, but a necessary one.
ThunderVoice Hat Co.
All it takes is a bold vision and a good hat. Founded by ThunderVoice Eagle (Navajo and Totonac), ThunderVoice Hat Co. was created as a call back to the iconic Navajo Brim hat that has spanned through the ages. Each hat is vintage, hand-sourced, steamed and shaped, creatively visioned, and lovingly made by a Native artist, but that's not even the half of it. Having branched out to clothing and accessories, ThunderVoice Hat Co. is building a sustainable vintage and slow fashion brand that runs purely on the goal of cultural preservation.
Husband and wife and cofounders Erik Brodt and Amanda Bruegl wanted to create a brand that preserved and celebrated their collective Ojibwe, Oneida, and Mohican heritage. The resulting Ginew is the first Native American-owned denim collection. Referring to themselves as "Native Americana," their clothing and outerwear collections have become the pinnacle of Western and Native fusion fashion.
Lauren Good Day
Santa Fe Indian Market champion, celebrated fashion designer, registered Treaty Indian with the Sweet Grass Cree First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada, and brand owner Lauren Good Day is ... a pretty remarkable individual. With award-winning designs and artwork that has been showcased in many a museum, Good Day has fused fashion and art in one of the most gorgeous clothing collections. Her wearable art is available worldwide, along with her prints and accessories, and is not even close to done picking up steam.
The journey of uplifting and learning from Native voices is never over. From Native models to Native history to Native book recommendations and beyond, we are dedicated to educating ourselves and others on the beauty and complexity of Native culture. Head to our Native American Heritage Month landing page to continue your own learning (and unlearning) process.