Josh Tafoya is Artfully Honoring His Inter-Ethnic Lineage In His Third Full Collection Release at 4KINSHIP’s Indian Market Event—“We Belong Here!”

4KINSHIP’S Indian Market Event WE BELONG HERE Hosts Josh Tafoya’s Third Capsule

(August 11, 2023) – This August, the streets of Santa Fe, NM will be buzzing with Indigenous arts, fashion, crafts and food. The only Indigenous woman-run shop in Santa Fe, 4KINSHIP will be celebrating its one-year anniversary at their brick-and-mortar location on 812 Canyon Road. The event, titled “We Belong Here!” is slated to offer a multi-disciplinary art showcase from seasoned and celebrated artists like Sheridan MacKnight( Lakota) and Lehi ThunderVoice Eagle (Diné) to emerging talents like Leah Rose (Ojibwe) and Josh Tafoya (Indo-Hispano)—whose highly anticipated third full collection will be showcased at the private event for honored community leaders.

Josh Tafoya is a Taos-based fashion designer of Indo-Hispano lineage. An emerging star in Fashion, and recent CFDA Interim Member, Tafoya explores his family’s long and complicated histories of Indigeneity and settler colonialism with great care in his work. Josh is a storyteller, with a deep understanding of Taos’ history, and the importance of intergenerational and intercultural relations. Like many families with centuries of history in Taos, his family has both Indigenous and Spanish roots.

Speaking to Josh, one recognizes him immediately to be a historian of both Taos and Indo-Hispano fashion. His work reflects the landmark events in New Mexican history like the Pueblo Revolt—when the Pueblos pushed Spanish settlers out of New Mexico, or the histories of indentured servitude, which commonly resulted in relationships and families of mixed bloodlines. Tafoya’s work also distinctly reflects the landscape and visual landmarks of Taos; from garments reflecting old adobe homes, to the Indo-Hispano water systems, known as Acequias that run throughout the region. His own family’s history as ranchers and weavers is evident in his designs.

“I don’t think I could do anything but this; this is what I love. Its nurturing and supportive to me. Taos is a magical landscape with open skies, a desert landscape, and mountains cradling the town. I love seeing the shades color the mountains. I love watching the clouds casting shadows. It’s a beautiful place with a lot of family history and stories. A lot of these stories that are our own were lost—now we get to tell them.”

Taos has a long history as a town of artists and craftspeople. Tafoya’s family encouraged and nurtured his creativity, noticing his talent at a young age and bringing him to summer art programs growing up. Tafoya took to fashion in high school as emopunk and grunge fashion came into style. He liked the unpolished tone of the look, and ran with it. Eventually, Tafoya was accepted into Parsons School of Design in New York City.

While Parsons offered an incredible education in fashion design, it should be noted that Josh is a self-taught weaver. He began weaving years before he learned his family had a long and rich history as weavers and millworkers. When his father learned he was weaving, he took Josh to an aunt’s home who had everything anyone might need to really build a full weaving practice. They left the aunt’s home with a giant loom, boats, weaving books, and wool in the back of their pick-up.

Importantly, in Taos, there is a difference between ethnic and tribal community histories. Tafoya explores the ethnicity specific to the region, and regions close to pueblos. He’s interested in mixed-blood conversations about lost, or rather erased, identity. His work considers heavy material that is ever-pressing in contemporary conversations.

Tafoya’s work stands out in fashion for his distinct ability to merge old traditions with modern matters and style. When he found a way to work weaving into fashion, Tafoya found his voice creatively. With two official collections released, Chola Chicana and Rancher, and one in the works, Tafoya is already making waves in the fashion industry. His Rancher collection, inspired by his grandmother and grandfather, tells a history of New Mexican ranching, carefully portraying the landscape, herding life, the acequias, and the adobe. This collection, along with his woven bespoke capsules gained him enough exposure and praise to be inducted as a CFDA interim member, a highly sought-after honor in the fashion industry.

Tafoya’s Chola Chicana collection explores his Spanish side, looking at cholo/chola subcultures of New Mexico and the Southwest. Questions and themes considered in this capsule include explorations of catholicism’s cultural influence over New Mexican aesthetic, 1920’s rag rugs, and high/low brow fashion at large. He looked at abstract ideas of Indigenous materials that have likely been passed down or have transitioned with time. He looked at the classic red paisley bandana, considering affiliations he personally makes between woven tapestries and paintwork. He considered patterns used in modernity that cultures gravitate to; or that (perhaps) gravitate to us. He looked at lace dresses with broomstick skirts, which were historically pleated on a broomstick and considered its colonial history and how the style was evolved, particularly by icons of Latinx history like Selena. Tafoya is busy finding magic between high and low brow fashion history. He regularly works with the LGBTQ+ community to model his work, challenging modern beauty standards in fashion.

Forecasted for 4KINSHIP’s “We Belong Here” showcase is a more rebellious collection, playing with what happens off the path, and inspired by the historic Taos Revolt. We can expect a lot of color, desert tones, and a contemporary punk edge! Honoring the brilliant works of Indigenous and POC creatives in Sustainable Fashion during Indian Market, Tafoya’s work will enter into a broader dialogue about tradition, blended lineages, and contemporary imagination.

ABOUT 4KINSHIP: 4KINSHIP is a Diné woman-run sustainable and upcycled artwear brand, Indigenous creative agency for the fashion industry, and community mutual-aid organization. As stewards of sustainability between human and more-than human relations, 4Kinship practices right relationship and service.

ABOUT CFDA: The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc., founded in 1962 by publicist Eleanor Lambert, and headquartered in Manhattan, is a not-for-profit trade association comprising a membership of over 450 American fashion and accessory designers. The organization promotes American designers in the global economy.