I have been a big fan of Native American fashion designer Bethany Yellowtail (Northern Cheyenne and Crow) for years. Each season, I eagerly await the latest B.YELLOWTAIL collection and fall in love with the patterns, silhouettes and story behind each design, as well as the poetic stylings of the accompanying editorial photographs (that are often shot by Native American fashion photographers and feature Native American fashion models). So, naturally, when Bethany reached out to me in March asking for my input on extending the sizing of her brand and then invited me to be the plus size fit model in preparation for the Summer 2021 collection, I was incredibly honored and beyond thrilled!
First, some background.
As many readers may know, plus size representation in fashion is incredibly rare. In recent years, ‘size inclusivity’ has become a buzz word, yet brands are still slow to extend their sizing to include a wider range of bodies. This is especially the case for independent and smaller labels. While I do understand the great investment involved in expanding a brand’s size offering, I think I speak for all plus size customers when I say, It’s about damn time! Fashion shouldn’t be something only straight sizes (size 12 or below) have access to.
We should all be able to express ourselves in clothing that allows us to communicate who we are and what we care about to the world. Fashion is more than just a way to keep warm. It’s creative and cultural self-expression. And, for many, fashion is armor.
Just because someone wears a size 14 or higher doesn’t mean their only options should be oversized t-shirts and leggings. Being plus size/fat/curvy doesn’t mean we don’t care about how we dress. Bethany (a plus size woman herself) agrees, which is why she has wanted to take on this challenge for a while.
The cultural significance of B.YELLOWTAIL is huge.
Let me also pause right here to let my non-Indigenous readers in on something so that the significance of B.YELLOWTAIL is not lost on you:
Like a lot of Native American people who grew up as an Urban Indian (in Los Angeles/Orange County), thousands of miles away from my Tribe in Virginia, I adopted a pan-Indian identity. I went to intertribal pow wows and cultural events, I took fancy dance classes with the Southern California Indian Center and participated in Native American summer programs with youth representing various Tribes. Outside of these events and programs, I was the only Native-identified student at any of my schools (except for three of us my first year at Mount Holyoke College). Needless to say, it was an incredibly lonely experience.
When you’re used to being the only person among hundreds of others who don’t understand you (let alone ‘see’ you), the moments when you can be with those who do become even more special. So, my love and admiration for Bethany Yellowtail, her incredible talent, and profound respect for her heritage (and her super-fan-customers!) really hits in a way that most non-Natives may never truly understand.
Indian Country is vast, but also small. ‘Creative Natives’ (Indigenous people who work in entertainment, journalism, fashion, music, etc.) tend to know each other. My entire ‘brand’ as both a journalist and style blogger is about visibility. So, I feel a deep sense of pride that pulls on my heartstrings when I see other Natives, like Bethany, making big moves. When she wins, we all win because she does it for the culture and for past, present and future generations.
Okay, so back to the collection…
This brand new B.YELLOWTAIL extended size chart features sizes XS – 4X. Now, for the first time, plus size babes can own their favorite B.YELLOWTAIL styles in their size! Here is a link to an interview I did with Bethany, along with some behind-the-scenes of the fitting process.
Here is the B.YELLOWTAIL Summer 2021 collection in sizes 0-4X.
The word “stunning” doesn’t even begin to describe the fabrics and silhouettes featured in this collection. The models, styling, and art direction all came together beautifully to confirm how special B.YELLOWTAIL truly is. I also find that the fabric names “Peyote Stitch,” “Sage Blossom” and “Flower Pollen,” make these pieces even more irresistible. The over all aesthetics exude Indigenous vibes from top to bottom.
This truly is a momentous occasion. Now, plus size, fashion-loving, Indigenous babes can rock the B.YELLOWTAIL designs we’ve loved so dearly, but couldn’t wear before.
My order is already in. Which pieces are you adding to your cart??
Whatever you purchase, I hope you’ll post a photo and tag me on social media so I can hype you up! I can’t wait to see how you proudly throw a Native American fashion lewk that celebrates your curves and represents the beauty of Indigeneity.
A HUGE congratulations to the fabulous and incredibly hard working team at B.YELLOWTAIL. What you’ve created is absolutely brilliant.
It’s a good day to be Indigenous.