VIFW celebrates the power and beauty of Indigenous designs, confronts injustice through fashion

Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week (VIFW) returns for its second edition on November 18 – 21, 2019, kicking off its opening night with the Red Dress Event. On November 18, guests are encouraged to wear red in honour of murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls and members of the Two Spirit community.

“VIFW’s Red Dress Event is an evening to join in solidarity by bearing witness to the pain and great loss our community has experienced while honouring, respecting and elevating Indigenous women, girls and the Two Spirit community,” said Joleen Mitton, VIFW founder and producer.

“With the release of the National Inquiry’s final report and accompanying Calls for Justice earlier this year, we have been called upon to confront ongoing injustice and to craft a society rooted in respect, safety and dignity for all.”

On November 18, Red Dress guests can look forward to designers Debra Sparrow, Yolanda Skelton, Pam Baker, Evan Ducharme and more. Guests can also explore the Indigenous Makers Market, which offers authentic Indigenous art and designs for sale for the duration of VIFW.

“Indigenous culture considers traditional regalia as the highest art form. VIFW bridges the past, present and future of Indigenous fashion by showcasing the expression and evolution of modern Indigenous designers that use clothing as a statement; a way to explore legacies of colonization and industrialization,” said Mitton.

On November 20, the runway will feature neon, denim and bold prints in streetwear and modern aesthetics by designers Tyler Jacobs, Kelly Edzerza-Bapty, Alica Stephens, Dusty LeGrande (Mobilize) and more. On November 21, established designers Angela DeMontigny, Sho Sho Esquiro, Erin Brillion, Karl Harris, and Justin Lewis (Section 35) will close the 3-day event with leather, graffiti and embroidery.

As an organization, VIFW is grounded in culture, tradition and community. Runway models and production crew are recruited and trained from VIFW’s long-time and ongoing work with the Pacific Association of First Nations Women’s Mentor Me program, which empowers young Indigenous youth coming out of the foster care system to develop identity, relationships, vision and skills for their vibrant Indigenous futures.

“The Mentor Me program teaches Indigenous youth to be proud in their own skin and walk in their full identities. It’s empowering for Indigenous youth to see themselves represented in a truly beautiful and vibrant way,” said Mitton.

Through fashion, music and art, VIFW seeks to facilitate reconciliation and deeper understanding between Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. The clothing and designs on the runway express political, environmental and economic truths of land, territory, and rightful place.

“VIFW provides a framework for safe business practices, cultural appreciation, mentorship, diversity and inclusion in an industry that has copied, and at times, stolen Indigenous designs. We are here to uphold authentic Indigenous artistry and reclaim what is ours,” said Mitton.

“This is not your typical fashion week.”


November 18:
November 20:
November 21:

  • Doors: 5:30 pm
  • Show: 6:30 pm
  • Seating: General admission


Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week (VIFW) showcases the power, beauty and evolution of authentic Indigenous art and design. Founded in 2017 by Joleen Mitton, VIFW brings global recognition to Indigenous fashion designers and artisans while providing talent development to Indigenous youth through mentorship, safe business practices, cultural appreciation, fashion shows, arts and cultural events. VIFW seeks to facilitate reconciliation and deeper understanding between Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities through fashion and community.

VIFW is held on the unceded territories of xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. VIFW honours their vision, resilience and resistance and stand in solidarity with them.

VIFW is proud and grateful for the support of partners, without whom this event would not be possible. VIFW is supported by the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Civic Theatres, ACCESS – Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society, Skwachays Lodge, Creative BC and Native Education College.

Media release and images provided by Kei Baritugo, BoldLove Communications.
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