Indigenous Fashion: Innovation through Enterprise

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This Honors Thesis investigates the experiences of contemporary Native fashion entrepreneurs who are trailblazing Indigenous design and representation through innovative artistic and business practices. Through qualitative analysis of common themes shared between participatory entrepreneurs using the software NVivo, this work explores the opportunities for mentorship and industry expansion offered by their enterprises. Private enterprise is largely underdeveloped in Indian Country which motivated my exploration into the fashion industry. Given mentoring, support, and a vision, artists can and are finding innovative ways to expand this industry and promote compelling, authentic, respectful representations of Native nations. The participants in this study are inspirational examples of Indigenous artists who have begun their own enterprises by drawing on tradition and showcase the enduring and continuously evolving nature of Indigenous cultures. They center their businesses on core values of community, growth, respect, and advocacy. By proliferating their work, these entrepreneurs contribute to a growing industry of Native fashion which is actively combating appropriative practices. They are taking the means of production back into their own hands and have unlimited potential to empower themselves, other artists, and their communities.


Type of resource text
Date created [ca. June 24, 2019] - May 24, 2020


Author Paisley, Will Avery
Primary advisor Snipp, C. Matthew
Advisor Wilcox, Michael
Advisor Biestman, Karen


Subject Indigenous
Subject Native American
Subject American Indian
Subject Native American Studies
Subject Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity
Subject Fashion
Subject Entrepreneur
Subject Designer
Subject Artist
Subject Tradition
Subject Culture
Subject Mentorship
Subject Expansion
Subject Contemporary
Genre Thesis

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC-SA).

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Paisley, Will Avery. (2020). Indigenous Fashion: Innovation through Enterprise

. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at:


Stanford University, Program in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Honors Theses

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