Indigenous-owned clothing brand celebrating milestones while giving back

Dec 6 2021, 8:42 pm

It’s been a busy few months for local Indigenous-owned and -operated brand Decolonial Clothing Co.

The popular streetwear and lifestyle brand won The Pitch, an online competition that saw entries from startups and entrepreneurs around the world in the summer.

Decolonial also set a new record this fall when the company reached the $500,000 mark in sales. And to keep up with the demand for their clothing lines, including branded hoodies, T-shirts, accessories, and more, the company moved into a massive new warehouse and expanded their staff.

For Decolonial’s co-founder and creative director, Casey Desjarlais, the company is much more than just clothing.

“Decolonial Clothing is an Indigenous-owned and -operated business that increases social visibility and representation through clothing. We inspire action and promote collective decolonization,” said Desjarlais in an interview with Daily Hive. “We are a family from Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 Territories in so-called Saskatchewan, and operate our business on the ancestral and unceded homelands of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh speaking people.

“We are a streetwear and lifestyle brand that utilizes clothing as a platform to communicate our message. We are a call to action; we uphold truth and bring awareness to the injustices we face as Indigenous people. Each garment is yet another reminder that we are still here and are not going anywhere.

“Decolonial is more than a clothing brand; it’s something we are living every day by breaking cycles of addiction, relearning our languages and cultural practices and standing up against injustices.”

Decolonial Clothing Co.

Decolonial Clothing Co./Submitted

Desjarlais launched Decolonial Clothing Co. with life and business partner Dakota Bear in May 2020. Their message of decolonization and clothing lines has resonated with many high-profile supporters, including actor and activist Mark Ruffalo, Grammy Award-winning producer and OVO co-founder Noah “40” Shebib, and author and MSNBC columnist Liz Plank.

“I think what has been drawing mainstream people to our brand is how clear and bold our messaging is on our clothing,” explained Desjarlais. “In recent years, people have been becoming more educated on the colonial history of Turtle Island [Canada] and want to support us in our fight for justice in any way they can.”

Another advocate for Decolonial is Michele Romanow, CBC Dragons’ Den star, and guest judge for the second annual The Pitch.

Powered by Orbiiit, The Pitch gave startups a chance to showcase their work to investors and consumers for a shot at winning $25,000 in cash and prizes.

Romanow judged the top 10 pitches in the final round and provided a one-on-one mentoring session with the winners, Decolonial Clothing.

 

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“The Pitch had over 200 contestants globally, so for us to have won meant a lot to us because it was fulfilling our vision of social visibility for Indigenous People across the world,” said Bear. “It also shows that we really are more than a clothing brand; we were up against businesses that solved all sorts of problems in the world. Yet people saw our message and resonated with our vision for the company.

“We’ve already completed the mentorship from Michelle and it went great. She connected us to some great resources and told us to definitely apply for the next season of Dragon’s Den.”

Momentum is continuing to grow for the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) territory-based business. Decolonial upscaled to a warehouse and office HQ that is 10 times the size of their initial operation and has grown their team to 10 employees.

Decolonial Clothing/Facebook

Decolonial Clothing/Facebook

The company has also received orders from around the world, shipping their clothing lines to Sweden, Germany, Ukraine, Australia, Nigeria, the United States, Asia, Canada, and Australia.

“What makes us unique as a clothing brand is that we move past clothing and into social action, through our blogs, content online, and events that we host,” explained Desjarlais. “We’ve organized rallies and events across Canada. Circles Festival is one of our latest to celebrate Indigenous culture.

“We are a movement. We are Indigenous people reclaiming economy, reclaiming ownership, and reclaiming our truths. We believe in collective decolonization and inspire action towards this. It is a daily practice that we all choose. We believe in collective change that will last for generations after us.”

Bear added that giving back to the community and supporting Indigenous youth is a top priority for Decolonial Clothing Co.

“Our goal is to continue to empower Indigenous youth and inspire action, educate the masses with our platform, support our community through our initiatives, and eventually set up a foundation,” said Bear. “We are going to establish our own mentorship programming for youth and provide employment opportunities to our community.”

To learn more about Decolonial and how you can get involved with their initiatives, please check out their blog posts.

Daily Hive

Community Partnership Content

This content was created by Daily Hive's Community Partnerships team.
Daniel ChaiDaniel Chai

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