The first IFWTO launches May 31 – June 3, 2018, presenting the most distinct and progressive Indigenous artists working in fashion, textiles and craft.
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We will vibrate the art and fashion industries, presenting the most progressive, distinct and exceptional Indigenous-made fashion, textiles and crafts.
IFWTO presents Indigenous-made fashion, textiles and craft. IFWTO is committed to exploring the deep connections between mainstream fashion, Indigenous art and traditional practice through presentation for broad audiences and industries. With amplified visibility of and led by Indigenous women, IFWTO is bold, inclusive and accessible. We challenge perceptions of and celebrate Indigenous people and our culture with integrity, innovation and excellence.
IFWTO presents showcases, curated exhibitions, artist talks, panels, lectures, hands-on workshops, and a trade and consumer marketplace, programming 60% or more Indigenous women artists and their works in fashion, textiles and craft.
IFWTO is majority Indigenous-led and committed to becoming a leader in the dissemination and exportation of Indigenous-made works for the advancement and empowerment of Indigenous artists and designers, connecting them and their work to Canadian and international audiences, festivals, buyers, retailers, curators and institutes.
IFWTO also provides Indigenous artists and designers with professional development, skills development and networking opportunities.
Throughout colonization, Indigenous-made fashion, crafts or textiles have been commodified and devalued as a way to exploit, disempower and erase Indigenous culture and people; additionally, the creation of fashion, crafts and textiles has been excluded from the patriarchal, western definition of “art” as “women’s work”.
The name “Fashion Week” is purposeful: to represent and be accessible to our community of makers who have been excluded from the colonial artistic construct. We strive for artistic integrity despite euro-western artistic definitions.
We are an arts and culture festival. A festival that presents Indigenous-made fashion, crafts and textiles and, consequently, fosters economic and industry development.
IFWTO is for everyone! Fashion, textiles and craft are accessible art forms. Regardless of class, gender, culture, race, geographic location, education level, artistic understanding or professional industry, every person undeniably interacts with these forms every single day.
IFWTO challenges mainstream perceptions of Indigenous people and our culture, which are often stereotyped, commodified or exploited. This harmful perception is blatant and high profile: appropriation by international retailers, ignorant street-style fashion at massive music festivals, racist national sports team names and violent news headlines and online comments sections. By presenting Indigenous artists we contribute to dismantling these persistent and harmful perceptions of Indigenous people and our culture, shining light on Indigenous people and our work from across Canada – on and off-reserve – and around the world.
Our priority is to program 60% or more Indigenous women. We amplify our voices and visibility and put our women front and centre. At IFWTO, the presence of and leadership by Indigenous women is essential: we are alive! We make up most Indigenous makers in Canada, we advocate each other and we honour our matriarchs who have come before us and their work.