Paul Frank teams up with Native American artists
This undated image provided by Paul Frank Industries Inc. shows handmade jewelry and accessories made by Autumn Dawn Gomez of the Comanche and Taos tribes. Paul Frank collaborated with Gomez and three other Native American artists and designers to create a new collection that was unveiled Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, at the SWAIA Indian Market in Santa Fe, N.M. (AP Photo/Paul Frank Industries Inc.)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — It was Fashion's Night Out in Los Angeles. Celebrities and models packed parties and shopping extravaganzas thrown by designers and retailers.
The people at Paul Frank Industries — famous for putting Julius the monkey on everything from T-shirts to bicycles — were hoping to have some fun with the latest trend of Native American inspired designs. Their offerings included feather headbands, toy tomahawks and glow-in-the-dark war paint.
The backlash was in full swing within 24 hours.
Bloggers and other critics blasted last year's neon-lit powwow as racist and the latest fashion faux pas to anger Native Americans.
After apologizing, Paul Frank Industries spent nearly a year working with its most vocal critics and a diverse team of Native American artists and designers to create a new collection of merchandise with a distinct Native flavor.
This undated image provided by Paul Frank Industries Inc. shows merchandise created through a collaboration with four Native American artists and designers. The new collection was to be unveiled Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, at the SWAIA Indian Market in Santa Fe, N.M. (AP Photo/Paul Frank Industries Inc.)
This time, it was done right, said Elie Dekel, president of Saban Brands, the parent company of Paul Frank.
The beaded sunglasses, brightly colored handmade accessories, tote bags and graphic T-shirts were set to be unveiled Friday evening at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe as part of the annual Santa Fe Indian Market festivities.
Bloggers Adrienne Keene, a member of the Cherokee tribe who writes Native Appropriations, and Jessica Metcalfe, a Turtle Mountain Chippewa from North Dakota who runs Beyond Buckskin, were among those involved in the monthly conference calls and hundreds of emails that were shared over many months as the project developed.
Keene, in a recent blog post, called the collaboration "a big win for Indian Country" but said it was important to remember what sparked the collaboration.