Celebrating Indigenous Excellence in Fashion: Q&A with Model Oliver Pawis

September 30, 2023

In the dynamic world of fashion, diversity is not just a trend; it's an essential and ongoing conversation that shapes the industry's future. Today, we have the privilege of delving into the remarkable journey of Oliver Pawis, a trailblazing Indigenous model of Ojibwe heritage, who has been making waves in the fashion world. Oliver's unique perspective, influenced by his Indigenous roots, has not only set him apart but also serves as a source of inspiration for those who aspire to carve their paths in the fashion industry.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Oliver and gain insights into how his Indigenous heritage has played a pivotal role in his fashion career. Join us as we explore his thoughts on Indigenous representation, personal experiences that have left an indelible mark on his journey, and his vision for a more inclusive and supportive fashion industry. Get ready to be inspired by a voice that's breaking barriers and fostering change in the world of fashion. Let's dive into the conversation with Oliver.

Can you tell us a bit about your Indigenous heritage and how it has influenced your journey as a fashion model?

My Indigenous heritage, Ojibwe in this case, plays a significant role in shaping my unique identity as a fashion model. It influences my style choices, the stories I choose to tell through my work, and the connections I make within the fashion world.

Indigenous representation in the fashion industry has been limited historically. How do you think the industry can better support and amplify Indigenous voices and talent?

To better support and amplify Indigenous voices and talent in the fashion industry, it's essential for the industry to actively seek out Indigenous designers, models, and artists. This includes providing platforms, mentorship programs, and financial support. Fashion brands can also collaborate with Indigenous communities in a culturally sensitive and respectful manner.

What advice do you have for young Indigenous individuals who aspire to pursue a career in modeling?

For young Indigenous individuals aspiring to become models, my advice would be to stay true to your cultural identity and use it as a source of inspiration. Seek mentors within the industry who can guide you and connect with Indigenous fashion initiatives that offer support and opportunities.

Do you think sharing personal stories or experiences related to your Indigenous heritage has an impact?

Sharing personal stories or experiences related to your Indigenous heritage can make your journey more meaningful. These stories can connect you with your audience on a deeper level, helping you stand out in the competitive world of fashion.

Are there any specific initiatives, projects, or organizations you're involved with or support that promote Indigenous culture, heritage, or fashion that you'd like to highlight?

There are not any at the moment, however, I would like to highlight Indigenous Fashion Weeks: Indigenous Fashion Weeks were gaining momentum in various parts of the world, showcasing the work of Indigenous designers, artists, and models. These events provided a platform for Indigenous fashion to shine and celebrated the rich diversity of Indigenous cultures.

What steps do you believe the fashion industry as a whole should take to ensure better inclusion, representation, and support for Indigenous models, designers, and artists?

The fashion industry should take steps such as diversifying runway shows, advertising campaigns, and design teams. Brands should also collaborate with Indigenous artists and designers, respecting their cultural insights and intellectual property rights.

As we observe Truth and Reconciliation Day, how can non-Indigenous individuals be allies and support Indigenous voices and initiatives in the fashion industry and beyond?

Non-Indigenous individuals can be allies by educating themselves about Indigenous history and issues, advocating for Indigenous representation, and supporting Indigenous-led initiatives. It's also crucial to listen to and amplify Indigenous voices, both in the fashion industry and in broader discussions of reconciliation.

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Celebrating Indigenous Excellence in Fashion: Q&A with Model Oliver Pawis

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