alter-NATIVE Ep. 1 “Bethany Yellowtail: Sun Road Woman and Fashion Designer”

alter-NATIVE Ep. 1 “Bethany Yellowtail: Sun Road Woman and Fashion Designer”


(upbeat music) – Could I tell you
a funny story, too? A really fabulous story
about Beyonce and me? I got nominated to this- it’s called Girls State, where they take like
two representatives from each high school and like, take you to the state capital. And one of the requirements is
that we wear business attire. At the time the Pink
Panther movie was out and Beyonce did
this all pink video. So I made myself a pink
suit to go to Girl State and like rocked it
while everyone else was in Wyoming business casual. (upbeat music) – My name is Bethany Yellowtail. I’m from the Crow and
Northern Cheyenne Nations in Southeastern Montana, and I currently
live in Los Angeles. I’m the CEO, founder,
creative director of byellowtail.com. We’re starting to have
really big collaborations. I just completed
designing a collaboration for the Land of Nod, which is a sister company
for Crate and Barrel. It’s not like I grew
up thinking, like, Oh, I’m gonna be a
famous fashion designer. I learned sewing from
my aunties and grandmas. It was just something I
naturally was drawn to. (upbeat music) – Do you want this
against white backdrop? Or do we want light? – Yeah white. I wanna do product shots first, and then I would like
to go up on the roof or on the street. – Today we’re gonna be
shooting my newest piece. It’s called the Sun
Road Woman dress, and that is actually
my Cheyenne name. – Hi. – Problem again. This is what it came out with. – When she sent it over
it looked black to me. I knew it was off
just in the email. We have Laker purple and black. – Yes. Oh, and then did you
get to see the new? It’s off. The color’s off also, but… – Wait. No. – I know. Look right here too. So we have to make sure that when our production
comes from them that if it’s this color… We’re not gonna
take it this color. It’s a power dress, huh? (upbeat music) ♪ All together, you and I ♪ You and I, now’s the time ♪ Oh oh oh let’s go – The futuristic
indigenous hot mama. (camera clicks) You know when you cut
your hair really short, and then it starts to grow, and it’s at, like,
that in-between stage, and it’s the ugly phase? (laughs) I felt like 2016
was that for me. I was going through a
really horrible breakup, and, yeah. It was horrible. And, uh… Holy cow. Here we go. I really had to dig deep. I had to change my focus
and keep moving forward, and dig into the things
that are really important. So the Sun Road Woman
dress was my expression of finding strength. I really started
calling on my name, and the way we pray, as Cheyenne people, like, we say our name to the creator. That’s the way the
creator hears us. So I was like saying
my name in my language, and just, like, praying, and that design was something
that came out of that, out of my heartbreak. It was, I love how it came out. – As a native woman it’s just so exciting to have
a native fashion designer out there who is so big
and is doing so well, because I just absolutely
love her clothes and the meaning behind them. I mean, they’re beautiful, but they’re also meaningful, and there’s so much
native influenced fast fashion out there that I think is
totally heartless. – Native inspired fashion is in. – [Narrator]
Supermodel Karlie Kloss walked the runway
in a headdress. – You could go to
Urban Outfitters or Forever 21, or, really any store, now days. Even some higher end lines are
appropriating native culture. – Fashion Week, February 2015, One of my friends messaged me. She’s like, “Hey. Did you see the
KTZ runway show?” So I looked at it, I was like, oh, oh, oh, what? This dress was not only
the same shape as my dress, but it had the same designs in just a different
fabric and colorway. To be honest, it took
the wind out of me. It just felt really personal. Almost like an attack on
me as a native person, because it was like, here, let me do this for you. I’m gonna take this
to fashion week when that’s my goal. I wanna be able to
be on the big stage and be in mainstream fashion, and share the work
for my people. And I spoke up for myself, which normally, I
probably wouldn’t do, and I blasted them
on social media and then the troops came. People really rallied behind me, and made sure that they knew that we were not okay with that. Did I show you what the
inspiration is for this? I was really inspired
by this ledger drawing by Wakeah Jhane. She’s a Comanche artist. I love that we’re seeing
the gray of the city, and then her in her regalia
it just was shining bright. So that’s what I was
inspired by for this shoot. (camera clicking) So this is a scarf I designed for Native Americans
in Philanthropy, which is sponsoring the
Indigenous Women Rise March as a part of the
Women’s March on DC. All of the indigenous
women who are coming to be a part of the march will be wearing them
around their neck. So it’ll be like… Like a triangle around
the neck, like this. And this says B.Yellowtail for Native Americans
in Philanthropy, and then the women
will be all across. I’m really excited to see all of the women who
will be wearing them. (upbeat music) I realize it now, that there is an
intersection of activism and my work as a
fashion designer. – Let’s give it up for
Bethany Yellowtail. (cheers) – I just wanted
to share with you a little bit about
what the design means. As you know, in
some of our tribes our women don’t traditionally
wear headdresses, but the Woman
War Bonnet Dance, it’s reserved for our young
indigenous women leaders. So I wanted to use that
design to represent this time, this moment, and all of you who are here. (upbeat music) When I was growing
up I was told that no matter what you do, no matter where you go, that you always give
back to your people. That’s part of my DNA. I’m tired of having
our representation be through a non-native lens. I want more people
to hear our stories, and see our faces. Everything that I was
supposed to do with my brand, I know now. I’m gonna take
everything I’ve learned and put it into my
next collection. (R&B music) Watch more
Indie Lens Storycast by following these links. Short stories: big impact.


36 thoughts on “alter-NATIVE Ep. 1 “Bethany Yellowtail: Sun Road Woman and Fashion Designer”

  1. This is absolutely amazing!!! i love it! Bethany you are a strong, influential, inspiring woman!!! i love you!!!

  2. Bethany is truly an inspiration to the Native Community! A wonderful role model for all! So proud of you for all of your accomplishments! I loved hearing your story about Girls State, I just became my schools delegate.

  3. Those dresses are hardly similar apart from having a geometric pattern (where only two areas are very vaguely similar on the bottom portion, but does not continue on the top)and the same basic shape…fabric, pattern, colour palette, sleeve length, styling, and the collar are different. I prefer the one on the right as well tbh.
    At best it's "inspired" as opposed to design theft like she claims.

  4. I wish they had men's clothing or I wish there was a similar company for men! I'd love to support my people!

  5. Non native companies should keep native designs or native inspirations out of their minds. They are taking credit for something our people should be acredited for and paid for instead of stealing everything from us.
    I love you Bethany!!
    I am Diné not navajo. Not a thief.

  6. Is it considered cultural Appropriation if I wore these designs? I really like the designs that she makes for both male and females. does it count if my grand mother is Native American? Im just a bit confused of where the line is drawn.

  7. I'm like crying this is so good!!! I love this, I am so proud to see another Indigenous artist out there doing the work! It is so important. Can't wait to share this with everyone I know

  8. your dress was sooooooooooo much better (than the one they copied at fashion week). also, i want that dress.

  9. I get appropriation issues. As a caucasian goes, I am very respectful of this. My question is how do I support this but not offend? Obviously if I show up wearing some of this beautiful fashion….people are gonna roll their eyes at me. Where do we meet?

  10. l Miss😭😭 her so much but l hope she'll come Down to wyola mt for the holidays soon she's the best aunty and now I Miss her sister Jamie but atleast her brothers are still here from kricket yellowtail McKenzie

  11. Her designs are bad ass. Keep on that path of elevation, Bethany! Your fashions are unique and gorgeous. A truly visionary designer.

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