Native American artist and designer Charlene Holy Bear has piqued the interest of sneakerheads and fashion aficionados alike, after creating impeccably beaded Vans Slip-On sneakers that have become a viral hit.
Vogue recently caught up with the aspiring designer, as Holy Bear, a member of the Standing Rock Lakota Sioux Tribe, shared that she created the beaded Vans four years ago as a last-minute consideration when going to a pan-tribal festival called the “Gathering of Nations” in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
...on how she came up with the design when attending the pan-tribal festival.
CHB: "I hadn’t had any time to prepare outfits for us but I wanted my 4-year-old son Justus to look really cool. He had a new pair of slip-on Vans and I suddenly had an idea, looking at the checkerboard design."
...on what it reminded her of and the reception it had.
CHB: "Those Vans really reminded me of traditional moccasins. Once they were beaded they had this sort of urban Indian vibe so I braided my son’s hair, put on those shoes and he was the coolest little guy at the powwow. People were stopping us to take photos, he made such a splash.”
...on getting contacted by the communications director at PayPal after seeing her design on Pinterest.
CHB: "She contacted me to see if I would make her a pair and it just kind of grew from there."
...on how she would sell her designs, inspired by pow wow regalia.
CHB: "Social media all changed that. I started posting photos on Instagram and people started to contact me looking to buy or have pieces made instead."
...on why she likes working with shoes.
CHB: "I love working on the shoes though because it gives me such creative freedom."
...on her current interest and upcoming project.
CHB: "I’m really into florals right now and I’ve been working on some new designs for the Vans."
...on what these custom Vans that can take up to two weeks to produce, represents.
CHB: "To me these Vans really represent a modern spin on native fashion. I went home to the reservation recently wearing a pair and my sister called me a ‘city Indian,’ so I guess that’s what they say to other people, too."
...on her recent rise to popularity.
CHB: "This all started because of my son. So I just made him a new pair for Christmas."
For additional details, be sure to read the full story on Vogue.
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