Meet Montanan Bethany Yellowtail, a Native American fashion designer who's inspiring a whole generation of women

July 12, 2017

Yellowtail, who hails from the Crow Nation and Northern Cheyenne Indian reservations in southeastern Montana, moved to Los Angeles in 2007 to study fashion design. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in 2009.

In an era of fast fashion -- and even faster technology -- it seems every day brings a new instance of cultural appropriation with some of the most egregious examples having to do with "borrowing" elements and imagery from Native American culture without fully understanding their significance or context.

Model Karlie Kloss wearing a Native American war bonnet during a 2012 Victoria's Secret fashion show is one high-profile example; the too-cool-for-school Coachella crowd (pick a year, any year) is another.

Los Angeles-based designer Bethany Yellowtail, 28, is out to flip the script by creating clothing that expertly weaves together a traditional Native American perspective with contemporary silhouettes, and as a result it does something that's rare on today's fashion landscape: It carves out a space for truly authentic Native American representation that all walks of life can wear and enjoy.

The B.Yellowtail Collective features products from Native American artists across the Great Plains tribal regions.

By Tara Paniogue

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Northern Cheyenne fashion designer Bethany Yellowtail credits her L.A. success to her Montana roots