By Sasha Ramnarine
A new magazine aims to shatter stereotypes about natives, while promoting culture and traditions in a unique way.
Native Max was launched in October and is the first magazine in North America that looks at fashion through a native lens, while strengthening community relations.
“We want to promote wholeheartedness and compassion,” Kelly Holmes, editor-in-chief of Native Max, told Humber News.
Derek Nez, vice president and director of photography of Native Max, said the magazine is about giving opportunities to the native community, including creating exposure for designers.
“You don’t really hear about native designers in the media at all and it’s great we have this opportunity to highlight and show off these people and give them more exposure,” he said.
Many designers and companies have used what they think is native American design to sell clothes, said Holmes, who added companies often profit off of a culture they tend to misrepresent.
“The Urban Outfitters thing – how they put out some pattern underwear and called it Navajo. And how Paul Frank had a neon pow wow,” said Holmes. “You know they’re both exploiting the native American culture and traditions.”
“It’s not fashion,” she said, adding that such designs come at the expense of native American beliefs.
“Native fashion is actual native Americans making their own native inspired couture and it’s actually authentic,” Holmes said.
The magazine also hopes to fight stereotypes that are typically attached to the native American community.
“A lot of the news that hits the Internet – or whatever – that is about native Americans – they are not usually a good thing,” said Holmes.
“We really want to address stereotypes with this magazine and show everyone we’re capable of putting out a good magazine . . . and to run our own businesses,” she said.
“The only time you ever hear anything about natives . . . it’s usually about domestic abuse, alcoholic abuse, drug abuse,” said Nez. “A fashion magazine is a huge turnaround.”
While the magazine is just taking off, Nez and Holmes have bright hopes for success. Native Max hopes to branch off in the future.
“We want to expand our network across North America or even outside North America,” said Nez. “It’s everything that’s tied to the fashion world one way or the other.”
LISTEN: Kelly Holmes discusses how Native-American culture and tradition is exploited