Nuu-chah-nulth designer will live the dream of showing in New York

Monday, February 11th, 2019 2:45pm


Image Caption

Fashion designer Alicia Stephens


To promote Indigenous publications and journalism, has partnered with Ha-Shilth-Sa to republish this article.
By Denise Titian
Ha-Shilth-Sa Writer


A Burnaby-based fashion designer from the Ahousaht First Nation has been invited to New York during Fashion Week in September to show eight of her works.

Alicia Stephens said showing her pieces in New York is her ultimate dream.

“I am so excited to be bringing First Nations art to the capitol of fashion.”

Stephens grew up with a keen interest in First Nations art. From the age of eight, she knew she wanted to be an artist and was mentored by Kwakwaka'wakw artists Victor Newman and his uncle Sean Whonnock.

As a teenager, Stephens modeled the clothing of First Nations fashion designers, a move that inspired her to create her own fashion line. She began with modern, everyday wear for younger people, inspiring them to show pride in their culture and heritage. In 2012, Stephens painted designs on her wedge sandals and posted a photo of them on Facebook. Many people loved her work and the orders came pouring in.

She’s gone on to design purses, wallets, rings and many other wearable pieces; she named her line Alicia's Ink. She has her own website named Alicia’s Designs.

Constantly developing and evolving her art work, Alicia’s distinct lines and form depict strong traditional design with a modern flair.

“I love the creative part in my work. I can stare at a piece and a design will pop out and the paint will start. I get obsessed with certain colors and see them everywhere,” said Stephens.


Alicia’s products are in high demand and she has shipped them all over North America.

One day she received a message from someone named Taylor Hannon who mentioned something about New York Fashion Week.

“At first I thought this can’t be real; this must be spam,” said Stephens.

As she read on she noticed that Hannon brought up details which indicated to Stephens that this was an actual invitation.

“I got the chills,” said Stephens.

Hannon, a curator for Oxford Fashion Studio, told Stephens that she and her team comb the internet, searching the webpages of more than 40,000 new and upcoming fashion designers. When they came across Alicia’s Designs, the whole team loved it.

Stephens received a confirmation email in November. She is excited about the opportunity.

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