Streetwear label Supreme has partnered with Makah artist Nytom, a.k.a. John Goodwin, to design a series of jackets for fall. Supreme is known to team up with major corporations like Louis Vuitton and New York City MetroCards, so the collaboration with a solopreneur and Native American artist caught some attention — from streetwear fans to Vogue, which has charted the brand’s meteoric rise from “cult skate shop to fashion superpower.”
Supreme discovered the 71-year-old artist on eBay. Impressed, it reached out to partner and leverage his stunning designs on their bomber jackets. Through the process, Supreme demonstrated what culturally respectful and mutually beneficial business relationships can look like between Indigenous artists and non-Native companies.
Goodwin told Vogue that the collaboration is a step in the right direction — away from the rampant cultural appropriation that exists, particularly in the fashion industry, and toward honoring Native cultures and the intellectual property of Indigenous artists.
Goodwin says his project with Supreme “strengthens our community by having original Northwest Coastal art featured on products seen around the world, and worn by celebrities and influencers. This has created exposure to our people, allowed us to speak about our issues, and most importantly, allows Native youth all over the world to see themselves represented on the big stage.”
Goodwin’s designs will be printed on Supreme’s bomber jackets, drawing elements from the Haida people — a Pacific Northwest coastal Tribe like the Makah.
“The idea of this jacket came from a Haida teaching where ravens and eagles always mingle together on beaches and in the ports,” Goodwin told Vogue. “That concept of togetherness always stuck with me. The jacket has an eagle on the front and a raven on the back. On the sleeves, there is an unborn child which can be viewed right-side up, or upside down — again signifying the duality of the raven and eagle, who are used as clan images to explain why things are the way they are. These images show power, illustrate pride, and give people a connection to our stories.”
The Sequim, Washington-based artist is originally from Neah Bay on the Makah Indian Reservation, and says he maintains a strong sense of culture through Makah songs, dances, ceremonies and rituals.
Goodwin works in various artistic media — engraving in silver and gold, limited edition prints, glasswork, metals, and wood. Goodwin recently created masks for his community’s ceremonial dances.