Why The First Native Fashion Magazine's Mission Matters


Of the many ways cultural appropriation harms Native cultures, maybe the most pernicious is its tendency to erase actual Native peoples and replace them with commodified stereotypes that are often fixed in time. That lack of a respectful, realistic representation of indigenous peoples in the media is the reason Kelly Holmes began her magazine, Native Max.

In an interview with Buzzfeed, Holmes said that when she moved from South Dakota's Cheyenne River Reservation to Denver, "people looked at me like I was a zoo animal." Many people there "didn't know Native Americans still existed," she explained.

Holmes combined her lifelong love of fashion design and publishing with her frustrations over lack of representation, and the world's first Native fashion magazine was born in 2012 (when Holmes was just 20, in case you needed further reason to question your life choices). The bimonthly Native Max celebrates indigenous style, culture, and artisans — and crucially, offers ethical shopping resources and guidelines. Meanwhile, its namesake blog adds timely takes on the appropriation that's rampant in everything from sports to fashion.

The finished product is like a living, breathing refutation of those one-dimensional stereotypes — one that Holmes hopes will "educate the mainstream fashion industry." Click over to Native Max to see what happens when a culture is finally able to speak for itself. (Buzzfeed)
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