Fashion & DesignTop Fashion Picks from the Indigenous Fashion Art Festival

Top Fashion Picks from the Indigenous Fashion Art Festival

Indigenous Fashion Arts (IFA) recently hosted its 4th biennial Indigenous Fashion Arts Festival, with over 100 Indigenous artists, designers, makers, brands, and pundits from around the world. This year’s theme was Reverence and Conviction, curated by Wanda Nanibush (Anishinaabe), Melanie Egan, and Sage Paul (Denesuline), celebrates rich cultural expressions of Indigenous peoples from Canada, USA, Brazil, Greenland, New Zealand, and Indonesia. The festival took place at the CF Eaton Centre from May 30 to June 2, including runway shows during after-mall hours and a 70-vendor marketplace. 

Executive and Artistic Director of IFA Sage Paul says, “We are thrilled to bring the fourth edition of the IFA Festival to Toronto, celebrating the profound expression and distinction of Indigenous fashion and the communities that uphold it. This year’s programming gracefully weaves a narrative of reverence and conviction, showcasing Indigenous survival, innovation, and pride”. 


TIMELESS by K. Lookinghorse


The Runway opened May 30 with 25 notable Indigenous designers showcasing collections over four nights, including a wide selection of high fashion, handmade jewelry, and accessories. Night one was themed My Tender Bundle, night two was Fierce + Fearless, night three was themed From this Ground We Grow, and the last night was Materialized. 


IX Balam by Marta Orellana


IX Balam designed by Marta Orellana is a collection of fashion pieces that explore culture and philosophy. The latest collection pays tribute to the woman Iximuleu (Guatemala) who resisted oppression and colonial constraints with symbolism of rebellion and the fight for women’s rights. This collection was featured at the Fierce + Fearless show on May 31.


IN LIVING UNIVERSE 2024 by Jillian Waterman


IN LIVING UNIVERSE 2024 by Jillian Waterman was featured in the From This Ground We Grow show. This collection intertwines traditional knowledge with modern craftsmanship and uses natural fibres such as corn husks and birch bark from her community. Jillian’s collection incorporates innovation with traditional materials that connect to her culture.


TIMELESS by K. Lookinghorse


My Tender Bundle features K. Lookinghorse’s TIMELESS collection was showcased on May 30. Her collection tells a story of a mother’s bond to her children, capturing energy using geometric florals, featuring imperfections that reflect the journey of motherhood.


Ulos Sitolu Huta by Merdi Sihombing


The final show, Materialize, on June 3, dives into the realm of material culture. The designer Merdi Sihombing featured her collection Ulos Sitolu Hutain in this show. Merdi’s collection is a fusion of traditional Ulos patterns, natural dyes, and contemporary fashion. Ulos Sitolu Huta embodies the spirit of Ulos by symbolizing blessing, affection, and unity.

The festival included workshops and panels, such as the Fashioning Resurgence Symposium, which features six-panel discussions and masterclasses at Toronto Metropolitan University’s Student Learning Centre. Three intensive, hands-on workshops, hosted by Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Employment and Training at The Creative School, aim to promote Indigenous skills and practices.

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