Courtesy Jolonzo Goldtooth
A model walks the runway at Native Fashion in the City, Denver 2016.

Native Fashion in the City: Urban Style in Indian Country

Jennifer Kay Falcon

On March 28, Denver hosted its 3rd annual Native Fashion in the City at the History Colorado Center, highlighting seven Native American designers from tribes all over the country.

Previous years’ founder Kelly Holmes partnered with Rocky Mountain Indian Chamber of Commerce, juggling the balance of an event that was part Native fashion, part Native business. This year held a new set of challenges for Holmes as she organized the event independently so that it could focus solely on Native fashions, stylists and models.

“We had to do everything ourselves, we had to start from scratch,” Holmes said. “First there was the venue, but then we had to learn to fundraise for an event.”

Native Fashion in the City, Denver 2016. Courtesy Jolonzo Goldtooth.

“We were lucky to get some sponsors – Native American Bank, Indigenous Collaboration Inc. and History Colorado Center. They worked with us a lot on what we wanted to achieve. Every single aspect of planning, they helped us. They support the Native American community.”

Jolonzo Goldtooth, a Navajo fashion designer who creates ready-to-wear pieces inspired by Native art as well as 1950s classic Hollywood style, thought that having the show at the History Colorado Center was a great choice by Holmes.

“I thought it was very significant that it was held at the museum, it shows the theme of the past motioning toward the future and collaboration in Native fashion. I get inspiration from my tribe and I enjoy fusing that with my own modern interpretation,” said Goldtooth.

Native Fashion in the City, Denver 2016. Courtesy Jolonzo Goldtooth.

Student artist Sabrina Seaton’s pieces were featured for the first time in this year’s show. She drove eight hours from Kayenta, Arizona, with her mother to attend.

“Meeting with Native designers Jolonzo Goldtooth and Loren Aragon, along with the models, made it worth every second,” said Seaton.

Seaton recently finished fashion school and has moved home to the reservation and intends to use that inspiration in her art and watch it evolve.

“Living in a new environment and culture is what’s going to inspire me to create ready-to-wear fashionable clothing for women on or off the reservation.”

Native Fashion in the City, Denver 2016. Courtesy Jolonzo Goldtooth.

Holmes is committed to bringing tribes together and showing how Native lives and fashion can evolve and give Natives more exposure in the industry. She hopes to start holding Native Fashion in the City events in cities all over the country.  

The next Native Fashion in the City event is at 6 p.m. on April 2 at the Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center in Colorado Springs.

Native Fashion in the City, Denver 2016. Courtesy Jolonzo Goldtooth.

The event highlighted seven different Native designers:

ACONAV by Loren Aragon, Acoma Pueblo

OXDX by Jared Yazzie, Navajo

Urban Turquoise by Krystina Bia

JG Indie by Jolonzo Goldtooth, Navajo

Nanabah Designs by Sabrina Seaton, Navajo

Native Gorilla by Lakota Sage, Sioux

Native Barbie by Roxy Washburn, Navajo

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