Wabano’s style is influenced by their upbringing of pow wows and Vogue
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The Shopping Essentials team knows all about technical or comfortable gear but when it comes to fashion and trends, we’re very aware we need to bring in an expert. Enter Scott Wabano, a Canadian fashion designer, a 2Spirit Cree from the Cree Nation of Waskaganish in the Eeyou Istchee region of Northern Quebec and a friendly trailblazer.
I met up with Wabano at Meta’s (Instagram’s parent company) offices in Toronto, Ont, to talk everything fashion. When Wabano entered the room, all eyes were on them. If I wasn’t there to meet them, I wouldn’t dare march my cotton-blend sweatshirt, clean-enough-denim-clad self over to meet them.
Wabano looks so fierce, and is sweet, friendly and fun person with which to explore the Meta offices. (The Meta team connected Wabano and me because they’re an amazing local talent who is rocking it in the fashion space and on Instagram and representing the Indigenous communities in the most fabulous way.)
After getting distracted by the bright colours that are Meta’s walls, Wabano and I sat down to talk about what’s trending right now and what needs to never trend again.
Wabano’s favourite current fashion trends
All leather: Matrix vibes. Head-to-toe leather. Think early 2000s.
Black Faux Leather Split-Hem Pants ($95) | Black Double Button Blazer ($95)
Long opera gloves: Printed gloves. Early 1900s. Gloves and corsets. Styled for today.
Marine Serre Crescent Moon elbow-length gloves ($290) | Faux leather opera gloves ($24.99)
Berets: Called Bangeeks in the Cree communities. Cree elders wear them. Connects Western and Indigenous worlds.
Bon Bon Beret ($126) | Wool berets ($20.99)
A fashion trend that needs to come back: Wabano assures that the fashion industry is cyclical, so what was in fashion will come back. They’re hoping that coloured skinny jeans enter the scene sooner than later.
Simons.ca has us covered.
A fashion trend that needs to never come back: “Never say never. But, also, moon boots,” Wabano semi-joked. “If you’re looking for boots to keep your feet warm, mukluks are the way to go.”
Tipi Moccasin ($69.99) | Manitobah Mukluks
The current state of fashion staples
I have no idea what’s in style and what should be upcycled or donated in my wardrobe, so I challenged Wabano to a fast-fire-like round of questions. I mentioned a wardrobe staple and asked Wabano to say two words that represent the current state of each fashion piece. My example was: “if I say ‘jeans,’ you could say, ‘high-waisted’ or ‘flared’.” I was half-right.
Jeans: High-waisted + textured (corduroy, for example)
The ’90s Cheeky Jean ($161) | BDG High Waisted Baggy Corduroy Pant ($89)
Sweaters: Cozy + classic
The Oversized Alpaca Crew ($150) | Amazon Aware Pointelle Crew Neck Sweater ($49)
Heels: High heels + platforms
Amma Platform Slingback Sandal ($219.95)
T-shirts: Graphic + slim
Graphic tees @ Urban Outfitters | Graphic tees on Amazon
Purses/bags: Upcycled + beaded/fur. (Wabano adds that there are a lot of bags in Cree culture – pack sacs, hunting sacs – bags really complete the look.)
Explore beaded bags.
Athleisure: Lesley Hampton + Hilary MacMillan (Canadian designers with inclusive sizing)
Jewellery: Beaded + silver
Yuzu Beaded Necklace with Pearl & Glass (US$150) | Silver bead bracelet ($69)
About Scott Wabano
Wabano grew up in the Moose Cree First Nation territory known as Moose Factory, Ont. Wabano was always inspired by fashion, both classic Indigenous styles and Western classics like fashion magazines and Sex and the City. Wabano noticed the lack of Indigenous representation in fashion magazines and set out to do just that.
Wabano now lives in Toronto, Ont., and works as a freelance stylist, fashion designer and model. They’ve worked on nationwide projects for Sephora, Ikea and Toronto Indigenous Fashion Week.
It took time for Wabano to realize that they could be themselves in fashion. They grew up watching movies like The Devil Wears Prada and saw the cold, removed, transactional approach to the industry. Now, Wabano is proud to be themselves and represent Indigenous Peoples in mainstream fashion.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Unique, but deadly. Traditional, bougie and modern. Walking in two worlds – both Western and Indigenous. Bead and embroidery work. I was raised on pow wows and Vogue.
Q: Is Indigenous fashion for everyone?
A: If an Indigenous designer puts their fashion line out to non-Indigenous communities, it’s for everyone. It’s actually important to buy from Indigenous designers, to support them. If a designer didn’t want non-Indigenous people to wear their clothes, it wouldn’t be widely available. However, if you ever have any doubts, reach out to the designer and ask.
Non-Indigenous people should not be wearing ceremonial or regalia wear.
Q: Who’s your style icon?
A: Rihanna. I connect with her because we both grew up on a little island. She’s also a chameleon with her style.
Also, recently passed Virgil Abloh, the first Black artistic director for Louis Vuitton. Love Abloh’s fashion line Off White.