Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

Seven Quick Questions with Niio Perkins & Toronto's First Indigenous Fashion Week!


An original dress design by Niio Perkins. Photo courtesy of Niio Perkins.

Over the weekend I was able to get an interview with Niio Perkins about an amazing opportunity for her fashion line and business.

Q - You were invited to Toronto's first Indigenous Fashion Week; what was your reaction to being included?

A - I applied to be included in Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto, same as all of the other designers. The application was the most extensive I've seen yet. I was relieved, and thrilled to know that I'd be participating in my first fashion week ever.

Q - How long have you designed clothes?

A - I consider myself an artist first. The collection I've created for IFWTO is an extension of my work designing wearable art for women. My approach to creating looks, whether it's jewelry or clothing, has always been from a traditional Haudenosaunee perspective. I love the challenge of designing a contemporary take on our traditional designs.

Q - How long have you run your own business?

A - I began participating in juried art shows around the United States and Canada in 2005. I founded Niio Perkins Designs in 2013. That's when my mother, Elizabeth Perkins, and I opened a retail shop in Akwesasne where we both produce and sell our work. We're proud to feature work by other Indigenous artists, including Powwow Pop Art by Roger Perkins, Kenniwa:a by Sydney Jacobs, Snipe Clan Botanicals by Sateiokwen Bucktooth and traditional black ash baskets by Glen Swamp. Last year we added a design assistant, Isabella Thompson, and she has been amazing for us!

Q - Are you going to show off your own design?

A - We will debut our new Spring/Summer clothing line, which we're calling "Kahi," at IFWTO. For this collection we've taken our most popular design elements (raised beadwork, NPD florals and colors), remixed them and created new textiles for head-to-toe looks. I'm so excited to see it all come together. We've provided some sneak peeks on our Instagram and the response has been very encouraging.

Q - Who else will be going with you to the show?

Wearable art – original beadwork by Niio Perkins. Photo courtesy of Niio Perkins.

A - I'll have a few friends and family there in support of my new collection and to remind me to breathe and have fun! My show is part of Berry Moon runway showcase on Friday, June 1 at 8 pm. Tickets are $25 and are available at We're also participating in the Marketplace that opens Saturday morning. Sydney Jacobs/Kenniwa:a will also be set up there.

Q - What are you hoping to gain from this exciting experience?

A - This will be my biggest event to date. I will network with companies that can help me take production to the next level. It's also an opportunity to connect one-on-one with fans of our work, and reach out to a new market that might not know about us yet. We have been preparing for growth, and this event will bring that hard work together.

We wish Niio luck and goodwill on this amazing adventure in June.


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