‘I want to be as big as Gucci’: Business booming for Indigenous Island designers

'I want to be as big as Gucci': Business booming for Indigenous Island designers

Bo Good strode down a New York street smiling, full of pride, wearing his family’s designs as part of New York Fashion Week this month.

That’s because the Victoria student helped bring Nanaimo’s Ay Lelum-The Good House of Design to the world.

The fashion line is the creation of Aunalee Boyd-Good and Sophia Seward-Good, who design the Coast Salish art that their parents and their brother Joel Good create into wearable pieces.

“The girls are making the dream. It’s amazing, it’s like running a relay race with your family and you hand it and the next one runs with it,” said Sandra Moorhouse-Good, artist and mother of Ay-Lelum’s designers.

“I want to be as big as Gucci. That is my goal as an Indigenous artist is to have the world be able to read, and appreciate our art,” adds Sophia Seward-Good, Ay Lelum-The Good House of Design, co-owner and co-designer.

Online sales for their designs are climbing from around the world amid a growing interest and hunger for Indigenous culture.

“I want to indigenize the culture one dress at a time,” said Seward-Good.

Erin Brillon, designer and owner of Totem Design House in Comox, said after generations where so many Indigenous people were taught to be ashamed of who they were and their culture, things are changing.

“We’re at the point now where there’s no turning back. We’re going to show our pride in who we are, in our culture. We’re going to wear all the earrings, we’re going to wear all the clothing and I love that there are so many allies that want to support,” said Brillon.

Totem Design House, like Ay Lelum, is now expanding its production and retail space due to demand.

Nuu-Chah-Nulth woman Vina Brown, who owns and designs Copper Canoe Woman, says Indigenous celebration in fashion is just getting started.

“For the future of Copper Canoe Woman, like I wanna see Rihanna wearing my stuff. I want to see Beyonce wearing my stuff,” said Brown, who grew up in Ahousat, Nanaimo and Bella Bella.

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Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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