The S Word

A collection by

Lesley Hampton

The S Word

My name is Lesley Hampton and I am a multi-disciplinary artist, designer and creative director. I am Anishinaabe Mohawk Scottish Canadian, a member of Temagami First Nation, located in northern Ontario and also have ties to Akwesasne, located on the border of Ontario, Quebec and the United States. I grew up internationally and I use my fashion and art to reclaim my identity and culture, while fighting for mental health awareness, body positivity and authentic representation in fashion, film and media. Fashion, on this land that is now called North America, existed long before contact. From the fur trade to present day appropriation, Euro-centric colonial fashion has always taken ideas from Indigenous cultures and present day fashion is often always held to the misunderstanding that Euro-centric fashion and beauty should be the utmost caliber. The FW2020 collection is inspired by the reclamation of the words used to other our people, the materials that hold an unspoken history, the elements that lead to reflection and the sharing of positive phrases for healing. From growing up hearing the Pocahontas song, “Savages”, to the many new stories of Indigenous people that alienate us, these colonial narratives are always defined by stereotypes and are often never authentic portrayals. This hit home, after receiving a series of bigoted emails that attacked my identity using derogatory phrases like, “You’re not native anymore”, that choosing fashion design as a career-choice is practicing “white trade” and that I “killed the natives”. Insight into the perception of how ignorant, uneducated people and brands can be, stemmed anger at questioning my place in society that reinforces false, derogatory representation of Indigenous people. After sharing these emails with a close mentor, her advice was to share this experience as wide and as far as possible. Sharing these words and emotions will lead to healing, not only for me but to show the wrongful depiction in the media and how hurtful it can be. Notions of misrepresentation with derogatory insinuations have been a staple in present day media and film and this collection is my contribution to push for more authentication and true representation of how strong and powerful Indigenous people are.

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Lesley Hampton spent her early life in constant relocation. A “Third Culture Kid”, Lesley spent years in Canada’s Arctic and Atlantic, Australia, England, Indonesia, and New Caledonia.