By Chevi Rabbit, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – Infamous Native Clothing is now on permanent display at Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery (MAG).
In an interview, its CEO VJ Curry talks about his brand. His message is simple, he explains. He created his line to break into generational trauma and become a positive role model for Afro-Indigenous youth and others.
Curry’s branding is unconventional. While several other brands promote culture, and educate on indigenous politics and social justice, Curry draws from his learning experiences and self-discovery as part of his branding.
Infamous Native Clothing encompasses his journey, as a survivor of street life and poverty in his youth and of Canada’s Child and Family Services.
Curry has changed his life to give back to the community. He does this by hiring local Indigenous artists such as Cody Lighting and supporting Cree artisans from central Alberta.
Never would Curry have envisioned coming back to his homelands, the Sovereign Four Nations of Maskwacis (formerly known as Hobbema), and becoming Maskwacis’ most popular clothing brand, with his clothing prominently featured on permanent display at the prestigious Red Deer MAG.
Curry’s branding is a hybrid culture where he pulls from the solidarity between his Black and Cree heritage and their commonality of facing oppression. His marketing and branding are geared toward Urban Culture, and infused with Urban Indigenous, Black Urban Culture, and Latino Culture.
According to Amnesty International, “In a country built on white supremacy, it is a threat to the order of society for oppressed people to work in solidarity with each other because this poses a real challenge to power. A common tactic of those in power is to pit different groups against each other as if each were the problem.”
“I experienced racism my whole life and lateral violence,” explained Curry. “I still deal with it today; everyone’s always like, oh, the Black guy…I’m Native enough for them.”
“I’ve also had older generations in my family who were racist towards me.”
He adds, “It’s time for us as Native people to take back our pride and show people that we’re still here and we’re not going anywhere.”
Bless the Dead is one of his most popular clothing designs, which The Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery (MAG) collections purchased from the Infamous Native Clothing Streetwear brand.
MAG states, “We’re proud to be part of the community and to offer a meaningful opportunity to explore all that has been preserved through the years…In 2022, after reading an article in the September issue of Alberta Native News, the MAG purchased this hoodie and sweatpants set from the Infamous Native Clothing Company.
“The owner, VJ Curry, is committed to breaking his intergenerational trauma by using his company to honour his family members who passed away from tragic circumstances. The Bless the Dead design honours VJ’s mother, who was murdered when he was six years old.”
“I try to use my designs to show people the adversity we as Native people face in our daily lives,” said Curry. “Some of us have broken those cycles and are just trying to leave something behind for our kids…I came from nothing and grew up in the street life. I’ll do whatever I [can] to make sure my kids don’t get to live that kind of life.”
“We can achieve our dreams even when the system doesn’t want us to win,” he added.
“I am proud that some of my designs have made it to a permanent display in the Red Deer art museum as a representation of Urban Native American Culture…We’re here to show Canada, that Natives are still here, and we won’t be treated as second-class citizens on our land.”
That is why Curry created a new design called “Solider Edition,” which highlights “the struggle” of Urban people living in poverty. It encompasses the “fight” for fundamental human rights, two spirit inclusion, Indigenous-led housing, food, water, winter clothing, and being treated like a human being. He has also expanded to include a new shoe line called “War.”
Through his clothing line, Curry is encouraging people to support each other.
He ends the interview by reaffirming that his brand is geared towards acknowledging the hardships of poverty, and his logos highlight his lived experiences of growing up with nothing and surviving street life.
He wants all Urban Youth to be proud of themselves, to know that their dreams are valuable and worthy and to wear “Infamous” with pride.
Curry is available to give talks on Indigenous entrepreneurship. Contact him at [email protected] or on Facebook: Infamous native clothing company.