West Kelowna Indigenous fashion designer ready for New York City runway | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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West Kelowna Indigenous fashion designer ready for New York City runway

One of the two-spirited models going to a New York City runway with Indigenous fashion designer, Jill Setah.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Jill Setah
August 16, 2021 - 6:00 AM

An Indigenous fashion designer may finally get to show her collection on a runway in New York City this fall, after being set back by COVID-19 restrictions last year.

West Kelowna Yunesit'in artist Jill Setah says she has worked hard to perfect her designs and raise money in preparation for the show.

With her custom designed fashion collection and unique cast of models, Setah wants to raise awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and two-spirited gender identity.

“My models are very diverse in ages and sizes,” she said. “They are two-spirited Indigenous models. It will be a very different look. The design has my Chilcoltin language, translated into English. It is a handprint with a face in it. It will speak volumes on the runway.”

Setah is the only Indigenous designer showing at the event in September called Oxford Fashion Studio, and the only one representing two-spirited people.

“I am prepared for backlash on my collection and my messages,” she said. “It will ruffle some feathers and there will be people who will try to put me down. If someone wants to come up and have a discussion with me, I will raise awareness and help build bridges of understanding.”

This will be Setah’s second show in New York and her designs have been shown on runways in Paris, Los Angeles and during Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week. She said the work it has taken to prepare for the event has left her feeling so exhausted she predicts it will be her last.

“My journey has been long and chaotic,” she said. “These big shows take a lot of work and they are not cheap. I feel like a lot of people support me but I also feel like I am at a standstill. I could use some help. I just need that boost of confidence that I’m not doing this alone. I am grateful for the support from First People’s Cultural Council.”

Setah is currently holding taco fundraisers on Mondays and Thursdays at 3501 Elk Rd. in Westbank to help cover the costs of flights and food for herself and her models.

She says she is doing everything she can to make sure she is in New York City in September.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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