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A Modern Look at Traditional Native American Fashion

A Modern Look at Traditional Native American Fashion

For Native American Heritage Month, we're paying tribute to the rich history, culture, and contributions of the first people to inhabit this country.

It is unethical for a non-Native company to use and profit from tribal designs and names without the consent or collaboration of that tribal community, which is key to remember when searching for a piece that nods to Native American culture.

The way to correctly do this is to invest in Native American design and crafts, sourcing trinkets, and garments directly from authentic artisans to keep the tradition alive.

The internet houses several comprehensive lists about how to ‘buy Native’. One of the most thorough is Beyond Buckskin’s directory, which contains links to brands offering everything from fashion and footwear to books, beauty, and home decor - all from proud Native designers.

Here are some of the most endearing and modern trends that fashion-obsessed shoppers can’t get enough of. 


Painstakingly fine detailed seed beading is one of the most traditional Native American design elements. Large-scale items involving the time-consuming art form can even take several years to complete! Beading is usually done on a leather base with beads sewn on piece-by-piece or in a loop. It’s most common to see Native American seed beading on moccasins, garments, jewelry, or ornaments. In terms of collectible tribal beadwork, turquoise beading created by Southwest Native Americans and floral beadwork by the Northern Native Americans remain popular and relevant.

native American


Perhaps the most instantly-recognizable Native American fashion staple, are handmade moccasins and still a good source of income for Native American craftsmen. The soft-soled shoe is made entirely of leather (typically durable deerskin) and stitched together with strong fibers. In many cases, these moccasins are elevated by beautiful beadwork or leather fringing. Moccasins are pretty impressive too: despite the soft soles, the leather can withstand the elements, even snow, and rain!

Native American Garments

Between natural fibers and stunning embellishments, Native American clothes are both skillful and stylish. Resourceful women of various tribes are usually responsible for making garments, including cutting, dyeing, and sewing skins. Native Americans believe that all life is sacred, so part of this practice means ensuring no part of any dead animal is wasted, thus most clothes come from nature. They’re then intricately decorated with the addition of seed beads, Wampum shells, glass beads, or Porcupine quills. The masterful creations include dresses, headdresses, belts, and fur jackets.

man in black long sleeve

Navajo Jewelry

Navajo jewelry is usually rendered in silver and decorated with large, bright gems like turquoise. There are still many artisans and craftspeople making this style of authentic and unique jewelry, which is connected to the Southwestern United States, where the Navajo (“Dineh”) lived.


Buckskin Jackets

This Western wear staple has always been popular among mountain men and other frontiersmen due to its warmth and durability. The elaborately-detailed jacket, often embroidered and with fringed texture, enjoyed a resurgence in the 1970s. These days, the style is still popular everywhere from the runway (thanks to designers like Ralph Lauren and Isabel Marant) to the high street.


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