SWAIA Native Fashion Week Showcases Exciting Indigenous Designs - SantaFe.com
A model on the runway at SWAIA Fashion in 2018.

For more than 100 years, the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) has been known for the world-famous Santa Fe Indian Market. Since first introduced in 2014, Indigenous fashion shows have been an increasingly popular part of the market. In 2024, for the first time, SWAIA is hosting SWAIA Native Fashion Week, from May 2 to 5, highlighting the growing importance of Indigenous design and designers.

Native Fashion Week will feature the artistic creations of Jason Baerg. Model: Melanie Rose. Photo by Tira Howard.
Native Fashion Week will feature the artistic creations of Jason Baerg. Model: Melanie Rose. Photo by Tira Howard.

The Indigenous Fashion Show at Santa Fe Indian Market is always a sold-out event, despite the large space it is allocated at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. Dedicating four days filled with four fashion shows and several exciting events to Indigenous fashion will shine a light on this growing fashion scene.

Almost 20 Indigenous designers from the United States and Canada are on the list of participants for Native Fashion Week, with more expected to be announced. Well-known Indigenous designers such as Patricia Michaels of Water Lily, Himikalas Pamela Baker of T.O.C. Legends, and Orlando Dugi are on the line-up, as well as rising stars in the Native design world. Dugi has been part of SWAIA Fashion since the first 2014 fashion show at Cathedral Park. This is the place to see cutting-edge Native fashion right in the heart of Santa Fe.

Native Fashion Week Events

Native Fashion Week starts in style on Thursday, May 2, with a VIP cocktail party at the New Mexico Governor’s Mansion. This is a chance for fashion fans, designers, models, and the media to come together to toast the kick-off of this first U.S. event. Tickets are $250 per person and are sure to sell out soon.

SWAIA Native Fashion Week will feature designs by Himikalas Pam Baker. Tira Howard Photography.
SWAIA Native Fashion Week will feature designs by Himikalas Pam Baker. Tira Howard Photography.

The next event is free and open to the public, the “All About Indigenous Fashion Symposium.” The symposium will be held on Museum Hill at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture’s Kathryn O’Keeffe Theatre from 1 to 5 p.m. on Friday, May 3. It will include panel discussions on topics such as “The Significance of Native American Fashion” and “Designer-Focused Fashion Hub.” Learn about Indigenous fashion from designers and other experts.

At 6:30 that evening, Native American Art Magazine will host a VIP Fashion Party at Las Fonda on the Plaza. This is another opportunity to mingle with designers and trend-setters in preparation for the weekend main events, all in a runway-themed atmosphere. Tickets are $195 but go up to $225 after April 14.

Saturday and Sunday, May 4 and 5, feature pop-up shops and activation spaces and two fashion shows each day, held at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. The pop-up shops and activation spaces are open at noon each day and close at 7 p.m. on Saturday and 6 p.m. on Sunday. Enjoy the exciting opportunity to visit with designers and buy fashion and jewelry directly from Indigenous artists. A general admission or fashion show ticket provides all-day access.

Styles by Indigenous designer Patricia Michaels will be part of Native Fashion Week in May. Model: Tantoo Cardinal. Photo by Tira Howard.
Styles by Indigenous designer Patricia Michaels will be part of Native Fashion Week in May. Model: Tantoo Cardinal. Photo by Tira Howard.

SWAIA Native Fashion Week Shows

The main events are, of course, the fashion shows. Indigenous models will walk the runway in four separate shows, each featuring the creations of well-known and rising star Native designers.

Native American designs have long been appropriated by non-Indigenous artists. SWAIA Native Fashion Week’s shows give Indigenous designers the platform to showcase creations that incorporate traditional motifs into modern styles that are all their own.

Native Fashion Show ticket prices range from $75 to $250, depending on proximity to the runway. Saturday’s fashion shows are at 3 and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday’s are at 2 and 4:30 p.m. Check the complete schedule and full list of designers for each fashion show and get your tickets before they’re sold out.

If you miss Native Fashion Week or want to immerse yourself in even more designs, plan ahead for the fashion events at the Santa Fe Indian Market, August 17–18, 2024.

This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead

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