Apr 25, 2022 - News

Fashion Week Minnesota brings Indigenous and AAPI designers into the spotlight

Looks from Native Star Light and Coalesce. Photos courtesy of Fashion Week Minnesota

Indigenous designer Delina White has been creating beadwork since she was 6 years old. Growing up, she made fabrics for bespoke clothing and hand-sewed moccasins for ceremonies.

Driving the news: New shows at this spring's Fashion Week Minnesota, a biannual display of local designers and creatives that runs through Saturday, are bringing communities underrepresented in mainstream fashion onto a bigger stage.

State of play: Minnesota's Asian American and Pacific Islander and Black, Indigenous and people of color communities have been showcasing the work of popular fashion designers throughout the state for years.

  • Fresh Traditions hosts Hmong fashion shows in St. Paul, while White has produced Native shows with her IamAnishinaabe collection throughout the state since 2015.

Yes, but: Many of the designers are mostly known within their community and don't have the same reach as white designers, White said.

  • White and Native Star Light designers — who focus on couture — don't have physical retail spaces and rely on word of mouth to sell their made-to-order high fashion pieces.

Zoom in: For folks like Coalesce creator and producer Mao Xiong, the new shows are the way to bring locals together for large collaborations.

  • Coalesce, hosted at Allianz Field, is a Fashion Week first. Everyone involved, from makeup artists to DJs, is a part of the Minnesota AAPI community.
  • And each individual involved in the event — not just models — will walk the runway at the end of the show to celebrate their work.

What they're saying: The Fashion Week shows are just one step to get underrepresented creatives more mainstream attention. But the larger audience helps reassure White that her work is meaningful to more communities, she said.

  • "Shows like this are recognition that the work I do is fashion," White told Axios. "This isn't just me sewing up a little something — it's something that's considered couture and that people want to wear, and find beautiful."

Of note: Native Star Light tonight still has $50 general admission tickets available. Coalesce is sold out, but will be livestreamed.

Plus: What to watch (and wear) this week

Fashion Week runs through Saturday night. Here are some highlights:

🎨 Luxe Streetwear: Seven designers combine avant-garde fashion with classic silhouettes. Dress code: The outfit you thought you could never wear out. Wednesday at 6:30pm, $30+.

🍸 Cocktails & Conversations: Go behind the scenes as designers share what inspired their collections. Thursday at 4pm, Free.

🎩 Black and White Night: The black-tie gala spotlights five capsule collections on the runway to raise awareness about Sierra Leone. Friday at 7pm, $38+.

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