What we call “southwestern style” no longer belongs to the southwest. Take a lap through any department store, or for that matter any mall, in America and you’ll be sure to find everything from beacon printed overshirts, to moccasin style loafers, to densely patterned “Navajo” blankets. Once unmistakable signs of authentic southwestern style, these garments now bear “Made in China” labels, faux vintage patina, and questionable quality.
Yet, the question remains, what is happening to the actual southwest? That answer lies in a visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico’s Shiprock Gallery, a shop that’s as authentic as it is innovative. Founded by Jed Foutz a fifth generation art dealer over two decades ago, Shiprock is a modern extension of Jed’s familyâ€™s heritage as traders on a Navajo reservation. The gallery deftly places that well-known trading post style alongside an eclectic selection of wares from across not just the region, but also the world.
At Shiprock you’ll find sterling cuffs with turquoise pieces the size of your fist displayed alongside Japanese wood furniture from centuries ago, with gorgeous patterned Mayan rugs draped on the wall, and even a whole room dedicated to visvim clothing. I was told that the partnership between visvim and Shiprock began when Hiroki Nakamura, the owner and head designer of visvim, came to the store in search of native Americana to wear alongside his own collection. From there the gallery dedicated a whole room to Nakamura’s designs and while the inclusion of an ultra rare Japanese brand in what is essentially a modern trading post might seem unlikely, the visvim partnership actually reflects Shiprock’s spirit as a whole. The gallery continues to honor and draw from its New Mexican roots while continuously reshaping and rethinking the meaning of “southwestern style.” â€”JG