Thursday, May 7, 2009

Native Themes, Tradition and America








Indian themes and indeed Native cultural knowledge is essential order to understand the North American leather jacket. Culture is viral. Europeans arrived in North America and would have not established a foothold without the help and cross fertilization of Native cultural know how and European ingenuity. Sadly the payback was territorial stealing, disease and in some cases genocide. Natives influenced dress styles of the European settlers and blended technology and design into the mix. This influence stretches back to the roots of American settlement and its strong influence can be seen today in the idealization of "nativism" in the design of jackets, branding and labeling. I pointed out that it was the Indian wives of early fur traders that invented the Mackinaw, and certainly the ergonomic designs and beading of early traditional Native garb influenced the Europeans in the design of their own clothing for survival. By the time of the industrial age in the Americas, Nativism came to symbolize the warrior, the sportsman, and the athletic hero. That positive image was overshadowed by the dismal treament by settlers of their indigenous "enemies".