Fashion Week controversy over Native design

Yellowtail says elements from her dress (left) were copied by KTZ (right)


Inspiration has not been in short supply at this year's New York Fashion Week. One item on the runway has caused a stir, however, after a designer claimed on Instagram that her dress had been copied by another designer.

Native American fashion designer Bethany Yellowtail posted a comparison of a dress she had released last year and a design shown this week by London-based KTZ.

"The dress as stated on my website embodies a Crow design from my great great grandmother...funny I didn't realize @ktz_official knew the Yellowtails or the Crow people," she writes.

"It's one thing for designers to be unoriginal and knock off other peoples designs but what happens when you blatantly take cultural valuable designs from Indigenous people? Let's find out....#CanANativeLive #boycott #KTZ #ktzofficial #boycottKTZ"

The post received hundreds of comments and kicked off a discussion online about cultural appropriation, especially after the popular blog Native Appropriations wrote about the controversy.

Yellowtail told the BBC that the hourglass motif is "deeply personal" and has been in her family since the late 1800s.

"It has served as the singular source of inspiration for my recent collection," she says. "What is more, my Native American community has a long history of outsiders misappropriating our traditional designs and lazily calling it 'inspired' fashion."

Her dress was worn by music artist Goapele to a Grammy awards brunch this year.

Lauren Chief Elk was one of the many activists who took to Twitter after Yellowtail made her accusations. She calls the social media platform "a great venue for accountability".