Two Sisters using lingerie to empower indigenous women

Shy Natives is an upcoming lingerie brand being launched by two Northern Cheyenne sisters, Jordan and Madison Craig, who are currently based in Oakland, California.

On August 18, the duo will debut their kick-off collection at the Santa Fe Indian Market’s Haute Couture fashion show.

Launching the label at an event such as the Santa Fe Indian Market is a natural fit as the events has been showcasing the works of groundbreaking indigenous artists since 1922. Like many other artists at the market, the Craig sisters’ brand surpasses just a fashion initiative.

The two consider Shy Natives to be more of an “social and art project,” using garments as a means to empower indigenous women.

Examples can be found on their Instagram page, with over 9,000 followers, where they highlight their work with indigenous models and photographers to showcase their pieces, which provides visibility and strength to a category of women who are often over-sexualized or stereotyped. It also allows the models and photographers to work in a way that reclaims their bodies in the process.

As they are utilizing the most intimate branch of fashion to fight all of the negativities that have been historically attached to indigenous women, including their exploitation, abuse and stereotyping, the twosome wanted to create their pieces to be as original and beautiful as possible to highlight that focus.

The duo explained that there is also significance in using a category such as lingerie to drive their brand’s mandate forward and that it’s best to keep their designs simple and tasteful as a result.

And although their Instagram visuals are certainly a departure from the typical indigenous aesthetic, the Shy Natives’ pieces themselves are also defiantly anti-traditional.

The collection debuts clean-lined pieces that focus on flattering the body—their thick piping is a signature detail—their lingerie rejects the idea that all indigenous design is from the same source of inspiration.

This is all in part of the fact that the most compelling indigenous designers right now are those that are finding new, modern ways to incorporate the same traditional aspects of their culture and livelihood into something modern but fashionable, and beautiful but powerful. Thus, the sisters are proving that indigenous fashion dos not always have to be so rooted in tradition.

As indigenous designers however, they do not have the same freedoms as other designers. They face a certain duty to carry on the skillsets mastered by their ancestors for decades and many of them feel as though they are slighting their heritage by not referencing their history and current barriers that they must face such as stereotyping.

This creates a lingering tension many emerging talents often have to overcome when first launching a collection—but their lingerie venture in itself is already aiming to show just how empowering a nontraditional indigenous fashion line can be.

The showcase will include their first lineup of pieces including bralettes, underwear, bodysuits, and more and after their run, they will launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to put the line into production and launch their e-commerce site. The collection will be made in Los Angeles, with sizes ranging from small to XXL.

Although forward thinking in a fashion sense, the sisters are still very respectful and careful about making sure that the traditional indigenous references they do make in their pieces are done in the best way possible.

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