Indigenous designer Scott Wabano is heading to New York Fashion Week

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Indigenous designer Scott Wabano is heading to New York Fashion Week's Profile


An Indigenous fashion designer who grew up on northern Ontario’s James Bay coast is headed to New York Fashion Week in the new year.

For Scott Wabano, New York Fashion Week always seemed like a dream from the remote community of Moose Factory.

“I’ve always dreamed about doing New York Fashion Week and I didn’t really know how to kind of start that, or how do you even try and put my name in there,” Wabano said.

“So the fact that they already knew my name was kind of crazy, kind of surreal.”

For the longest time, sustainability has been a part of Indigenous fashion and part of Indigenous people’s lives.– Scott Wabano

Wabano made a name for themselves in the fashion industry with the Wabano brand of genderless streetwear that focuses on empowering Indigiqueer and two-spirited people.

Indigenous representation in the fashion industry is important for Wabano.

“For the longest time, you know, the fashion industry has had a very harmful and a very colonial perspective on everything in terms of a person’s appearance, in terms of how sustainable clothing is,” they said.

“And you know, for the longest time sustainability has been a part of Indigenous fashion and part of Indigenous people’s lives.”

That focus on representation and sustainability has meant Wabano has worked with Indigenous models of all shapes, skin tones and sizes.

“There’s such a harmful narrative right now and that really contributes to pan-Indigeneity. But really, we all come in different shapes and sizes and colours and we have different hair textures and different body types.”

The Globe and Mail named Wabano, who grew up in Moose Factory, Ont., one of its best-dressed people of 2022. (Supplied by Scott Wabano)

With regards to sustainability, they’ve made it a priority to use recycled materials. Some of their bomber jackets, for example, are made with recycled polyester.

While getting the invite to New York Fashion Week was a big step, it’s taken a community to help Wabano get the rest of the way there.

“I was definitely under the impression that everything was covered for you. But I guess it’s not the case,” the said.

Running a fashion show includes expenses like paying the models, makeup artists and photographers, and covering the cost of the venue.

But Wabano did some crowdfunding and was able to get support from sponsors and their community to put on a fashion show in New York.

Their New York Fashion Week show will take place in February.



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