Ahead of her solo debut at Fashion Daze, indigenous designer Jennifer Younger sat down with The Y Report and talked about her design inspirations, career highlights and pushing boundaries.
Jennifer Younger is an award-winning designer, whose work has traveled the world. She draws inspiration from her Native American culture, as she is Tlingit of the Eagle Kaagwaantaan clan. Her handmade artwork set her on a path that led her to her solo debut at Fashion Daze at Yaamava’ Resort & Casino at San Manuel.
How did you feel when you walked into Fashion Daze?
I’m just so excited. It’s my first big solo show and it’s such an honor to be showing here at Yaamava’.
How did you learn about Fashion Daze?
Kelly Cutrone and I are friends, so she invited me to participate. Early in the conversation she mentioned the Native American influence in the show and asked if I’d be interested. I said, heck yeah, I was.
Where do you source the inspiration for your designs?
Everything I create I’m trying to honor my ancestors. I create pieces that are like armor and protection, but also have a feminine soft touch.
What new designs will you debut at Fashion Daze?
I’d say 95% of the pieces that I have for Fashion Daze are all new. It’s probably the biggest as far as number of pieces I’ve debuted, as well as the largest pieces.
What does this moment mean for your career?
I keep pinching myself. I don’t even know what’s happening right now. I’m just from a small town in Alaska!
What inspires you to push boundaries?
I want to reach as far as I can to draw people into Northwest Coast art. Hopefully, people will notice what I’m creating, but it will draw them into notice that are a lot of amazing Northwest Coast artists.
How does your personal fashion compare to what you design?
I’m a very casual person, I like to wear jeans and a t-shirt. I feel the pieces that I’m creating -- you can dress them up -- they’re big statement pieces. But if you’re feeling bold, there’s some pieces that actually could go along with something casual.
How do you incorporate freehand designs into your artwork?
I’m a hard worker but there are times when I don’t want to take the time to draw things out. When I’m creating, I might get a vision of what I want to engrave on a piece and then halfway through it, take a different direction. I like that freedom to create at any time.
How does it feel to be at Yaamava’ Resort & Casino at San Manuel?
There are probably more people here than in my hometown in Alaska! With Yaamava’ being owned and operated by a Native American tribe, it’s an honor to be recognized in their inaugural event.
What advice would you give to Native American designers who are trying to get into the fashion industry?
My advice for people, especially young people in general, is always ask. The worst-case scenario is someone says no, but if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.