VIFW 2023 Interview w/ Fashion Designer Angela Howe of Choke Cherry Creek

Choke Cherry Creek will be showing their collection on Nov. 22 - Indigenous Futures. Indigenous Futurism features streetwear designs that advocate for Indigenous sovereignty. It is an evening of Indigenous artistic practice, contemporary storytelling, and pop culture. More info and Tickets HERE.

From the VIFW Press Release - 

Nation: Apsáalooke & Amskapi Piikani

Angela Howe of Choke Cherry Creek is a beadwork artist, fashion designer and business owner. She is Apsáalooke and Piikuni from Montana. Angela creates clothing for the visionary and infuses designs, styles, colors and florals inspired by her Indigenous roots. Her brand Choke Cherry Creek, carries the legacy of her matriarchs and strives to empower and uplift Indigenous communities. Choke Cherry Creek’s mission is to inspire the world to see that Indigenous people are beautiful, resilient, rich in culture and are still carrying on their traditions today. She especially enjoys her passion for fashion because it is such a beautiful form of expression. Angela has been invited to showcase her array of clothing in various places including premiere runways in Las Vegas, New York Fashion Week, and Paris.


Interview - 

How did you learn your skills? 

I have been sewing since I was about 12 years old. I learned to sew in junior high from my mom, who was also my teacher. My mother Donna, who is Blackfeet, was a designer as well, she went to college and studied Home Economics (now referred to as Family and Consumer Science). I learned to use patterns and even made my very first prom dress when I was in 8th grade. I later learned how to bead from my grandmothers and aunts and started to create powwow regalia for my family.

Who are you as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand?

My name is Angela Howe, I am Crow and Blackfeet and my brand is Choke Cherry Creek. I create indigenous fashions for visionaries. The clothing I design is infused with colorful unique floral and geometric designs, inspired by my indigenous relatives and my roots. My collections include Apsaálooke designs (floral and geometric) beadwork and art in the form of ready-to-wear dresses, tops and skirts. I also make one of a kind beaded accessories and dresses for the runway.

The brand name Choke Cherry Creek comes from a place in the original territorial lands of the Apsáalooke and was a business name my mother used when she was in college creating clothes and doing fashion shows. Choke Cherry Creek was originally created by my mother, Donna Rides At The Door Howe back in 1986. My mom, an enrolled member of the Blackfeet tribe, attended Montana State University in Bozeman and was studying Home Economics (Family & Consumer Science) when she came up with the name after a conversation with Crow elder Joseph Reed (my great grandfather). He told stories of the old agency and how the Bozeman area was original Apsáalooke territory and the creek that ran through was called chokecherry creek and of the area’s significance to the Apsáalooke tribe. Donna was so fond of the stories and loved to pick chokecherries each season she thought using the name for her brand was quite fitting. Donna & her cohort of five other Native women (Margo Guimont-Stops, Polly Cummins Chase, Belva Weston, Margie Loud Hawk & Kathie Bowker) designed clothing, it was Native fashion, ribbon shirts, ribbon dresses, skirts and accessories. They held fashion shows on campus and sold their clothes. I even modeled for one of the designers, Margo, and that is what first sparked my interest in fashion, Indigenous fashion!


What comes easiest for you as a designer? What is hardest?

Coming up with designs and creating clothing and accessories is definitely the funniest part about being a designer. I don't know if I would say it's easy but I enjoy that the most. Running a small business mostly by myself can be hard at times. I guess it's just challenging to prioritize what needs to be done when it comes to managing time. It can be hard finding balance with working a business, managing a family and traveling all the time but I love what I do! I love to travel and meet people. I have been on an indigenous fashion journey and it has been amazing. I really love the connections and friends that I've made these past couple years doing fashion shows. One of the most rewarding experiences is seeing the confidence come alive in our indigenous models at fashion shows and my customers feeling beautiful and confident in my clothes and bringing my community with me wherever I go.

Where do you find inspiration for new collections? How important is colour to your design process?

I am inspired by the designs of my people. We are very spiritual beings, we love and appreciate our mother earth and the land, our environment is what inspires us and gives us life. I have been taught to respect these things and that before you do anything, pray. When I am creating, I remember to have good thoughts. My creations come from the heart, a place of prayer, and love for my culture. These are the things that have been taught to me and passed down through traditional teachings. The Crow people use certain colors in their beadwork and I go with what I was taught by my grandmothers.

Readers would love to know more about the current collection you showed at Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week 2024. 

The collections I am showing are the Apsáalooke Collection and the Blackfeet Collection which honors both of the tribes I belong to. I will be showcasing pieces from both as well as some couture pieces. This is a very colorful collection, the ready-to-wear collections I create have many pieces that can be mixed and matched and you also see how the two collections are different but still blend together.

Do you have a favorite look in this collection?

I have a gold dress that I beaded and it is just a very glamorous piece, that is my favorite look and I can't wait to see it on the runway.


Where can readers purchase your designs?

My designs can be purchased through my website and also at Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week, I will be set up as a vendor. I often set up at fashion shows whenever I can or attend local markets.

What's next for you as a designer and your brand?

I want to take my designs to the next level and offer even higher quality products and just challenge myself. I always love working in Indigenous communities so I would like to spend more time doing that as well. I love sharing my journey, and speaking and involving the youth in my fashion journey.

In closing is there anything else you'd like to share with readers?

Being an indigenous fashion designer has been so empowering for me. Fashion is a form of expression and our creations tell a powerful story, The message of native fashion is clear, "we are indigenous, we are beautiful, we are still here, we are resilient, and we are powerful." This is a movement, I feel empowered when I see how much fashion inspires our youth. It's all about leaving a legacy for future generations and we are doing it.