Westbank local Jill Setah is searching for trans models to show off her new designs in New York.
Image Credit: Contributed
February 04, 2020 – 7:00 AM

An Indigenous designer who has had her pieces shown in the fashion capitals of the world is searching for transgender “two-spirited” models for her next show in New York City.

Westbank local Jill Setah’s next set show is focusing on missing and murdered Indigenous women, men and children, and they will be shown on Sept. 22, in the Big Apple.

For this runway, six of Setah’s designs will be featured and she’s looking to include and highlight trans models to show them off.

“Two-spirit” is used by some Indigenous people as having both a masculine and feminine spirit, and may describe sexual, gender and/or spiritual identity. With a two-spirited son, she knows well some struggles some face and she wants to “shine a light on two-spirited people and let them know it’s OK to be different,” she said.

“It was such a journey and it was hard (for my son) and to hear other children are being kicked out of their house or being shunned from their family (for being transgender), I want people to know that our two-spirited brothers and sisters are fighting a war out in the community,” she said. “They shouldn’t be fighting with their own families to be who they are.”

This will be her second show in New York and her designs have been shown on runways in Paris, Los Angeles and during Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week.

“You don’t see (trans people) on the runway at all,” she said.

With four children, balancing her life and passion means a lot of hard work and sacrifice.

“It’s exhausting for sure. Any social media I do is 100 per cent on my own, so it’s not like I have a crew behind me,” she said.

She writes and applies for her own grant funding and previously had a GoFundMe to help with her last show in New York. She’s contemplating starting one again to help cover travel costs.

Her passion for design began when her children became involved with powwows and she would create their regalias. It’s blossomed from there 

Looking back, she’s proud to see how far she’s come in the last 10 years.

“Knowing that I could envision something in my head and bring it to life is an amazing feeling,” she said.

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