New York Fashion Week is receiving a much-needed dose of Indigenous excellence and fashion from designer, creative director, and the 2Spirit icon that is Scott Wabano. Debuting a collection at what is to be their first runway as a designer, Scott is joining the ranks of fellow Indigenous artists presenting their work at fashion shows this Spring. We sat down to catch up with Scott since we last spoke with them and learned more about what went into the process of preparing for NYFW and what this all means to them.
Scott (Eeyou Mushkegowuk Cree) grew up in Moose Cree First Nation territory, where during their childhood, they always felt a pull towards the world of fashion, finding an escape in it from isolated living and other hardships that they experienced. They began their journey into this field in 2017 after leaving home to pursue a degree, where they learned about the intricacies of networking and partnerships within the industry. In more recent years, Scott’s been working as a brand advisor and consultant to several brands, helping to bring more Indigenous representation both in front of and behind the camera.
When they were reached out to by one of NYFW’s organizers, they were initially hesitant about making an appearance there. “I’m still in the beginning stages of my brand and really trying to establish myself more. I was second-guessing myself and was kind of getting imposter syndrome. Especially with being an Indigenous designer in fashion and getting attention from mainstream organizations, it’s something I’m trying to navigate, like am I being tokenized?”
After getting encouragement from friends and the idea to mitigate costs by hiring people they already knew, Scott felt more assured in deciding to appear at the fashion show. After realizing they’d need to fill a few more slots for the models, they sent out a call and was shocked after receiving over 200 applications. When it came time for sponsorships, Scott reached out to community organizations and Indigenous-owned businesses, and through their help, was able to pay off all their fees for the runway.
For the actual collection they’ll be debuting, Scott had already had some of it prepared before they were even reached out to. In the time since, they’ve revamped it, including new items such as accessories and handbags. “I was supposed to release this collection last year but a lot of things just got crazy, my life got hectic, and I wasn’t in the right mindset to release it at the time…I get a lot of inspiration from my lifestyle, I go to a lot of raves, a lot of music festivals, and I love streetwear. I really wanted to bring a different flare of Indigenous fashion of streetwear to the market.”
Scott has frequently spoken about the 2Spirit identity, facilitating workshops to help educate others and to bring more awareness to issues concerning that community. Their brand prides itself on being genderless, opening up their products for whoever wants to wear them. This influenced Scott’s collection as well, using this opportunity and platform to deconstruct the colonial gender binary that’s typically seen in mainstream fashion.
Overall, Scott is excited for what their show could mean for the future of Indigenous designers in the fashion industry, and what doors this could open for the wider community. “It’s an Indigenous youth whose showcasing a collection at NYFW, it’s really rare that we get to see anything like that. It’s opening that door for other Indigenous designers, whether they be youth, elders, 2Spirit or not. It’s hopefully ensuring that they have a seat at the table and that they’re not only tolerated, but they’re respected, honored, and valued for their stories.”
You can learn more about and follow Scott’s work on Instagram @scottwabano as well as their website.