Northern Ontario’s ‘best dressed’ designer brings Indigenous fashion to the fore

Named after one of the Globe and Mail’s best dressed of 2022Scott Wabano brings more Indigenous representation to the fashion industry.

Growing up in Moose Factory, Ontario, Wabano said becoming a fashion designer, stylist and consultant was a natural transition after a childhood shaped by her Cree culture.

“You know, fashion is a part of our lives as tribal peoples,” Wabano said.

“Whether you’re attending a ceremony, whether you’re attending a powwow, fashion is just a way of showing an extension of our identity stories, telling our family stories and also telling stories about ourselves and our identities.”

Wabano said there is a lack of indigenous representation in the fashion industry.

Scott Wabano, pictured here as a child, says growing up in an indigenous community, fashion was always a part of their lives. (Provided by Scott Wabano)

“So I want to bring more Indigenous representation and more Indigenous voices, especially dual spirit voices, into this industry because it needs to switch and turn around,” they said.

They helped bring that representation to the industry with the Wabano genderless streetwear brand, which focuses on uplifting indigiquers and people of two minds.

Wabano has also worked with Indigenous companies and large corporations like Sephora Canada, IKEA Canada and Nike to bring more Indigenous voices to their brands.

They said many brands have had tribal peoples on camera as a form of tokenism without applying their ideas.

“But now many brands are actually working to decolonize the way their brand is and bring more indigenous voices and indigenous presences behind and in front of the camera as well,” Wabano said.

Scott Wabano founded a brand in her name to create genderless streetwear focused on uplifting indigiquers and people of two minds. (Fabian di Corcia)

Outside of fashion, Wabano was also an advocate for indigiquers and people of two minds. They plan to start a new two-spirit association in their home church to support people in remote regions like the James Bay coast.

The University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health defines two-spirit as “a person who has both a male and a female spirit and is used by some indigenous peoples to describe their sexual, gender, and/or spiritual identity “.

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