Honoring Time-Old Traditions through Mission-Focused Fashion

First Nations’ Supporter Locklear Thomas Invests in First Nations and Native Communities

A few months ago, Alex Locklear (Lumbee) reached out to First Nations to ask if we would be interested in partnering with her Native-owned lifestyle brand Locklear Thomas. She was interested in donating a portion of her company’s sales to support Native communities and had come across First Nations through a Patagonia Action Works article.

Responding “Yes, we’d love to partner!” was a no brainer. We love working with passionate people who want to support our mission, and the opportunity to promote a Native-owned business that skillfully blends Indigenous heritage with contemporary luxury fashion was something we couldn’t pass up.

Please enjoy this spotlight on Locklear Thomas and consider shopping their online store this holiday season and beyond.

Alex currently resides in Budapest, Hungary, with her rescue dog Akacfa.

Alex Locklear (Lumbee) is a Jane of all trades. On any given day you can find her treasure hunting at the flea markets, teaching herself cello at home, or taking her dog Akacfa for long hikes.

When speaking with Alex, it’s clear she has a natural curiosity and propensity for exploration. She shares, “I was born in Robeson County North Carolina, where the Lumbee tribe is from, but traveled around a lot since my dad was in the military.”

Alex acknowledges that while traveling can be intimidating to some people, it’s just exciting for her. She loves nothing more than to wander a bit, meet people, enjoy time with them, eat good food, be open to new experiences, and listen to people’s stories.

One of those stories is the story of the huaraches – an ancient pre-Colombian farming shoe, that has been hand crafted for hundreds of years in Mexico.

Alex shares, “I was traveling around a lot in Mexico, and I had these massive bags that were increasingly too heavy to carry…so I started donating items and leaving stuff places. I found myself essentially getting rid of all my shoes except for this pair of huaraches.”

From hiking to going to nice places, the Mexican style sandal had proved itself to be super comfortable and really versatile. This got Alex thinking – how can I bring these beautiful handwoven shoes to a broader audience?

The operation has grown from a grandfather and his son, to about 20 trained employees who handcraft each pair.

A friend put Alex in touch with an Indigenous family in Michoacán that has been making huaraches for generations. After hearing her vision and intention to support the local Indigenous community, they decided to join forces to develop something that could be sold and appreciated in Europe and the United States.

Keeping Traditions Alive

Similar to many traditional American Indian art forms, the process of making huaraches has been passed down generation to generation and is at risk of being lost. Fewer and fewer people are making the shoes. and an influx of foreign-made replicas threaten the craft.

However, thanks to Locklear Thomas, this trend is being reversed and more Indigenous people are being taught the time old tradition.

All the leather comes from local cattle producers and is vegetable dyed, so there are no chemicals and toxic dyes involved. They use virtually no electricity because everything’s manually cut.

Alex emphasizes, “If we don’t do our part in protecting Indigenous culture then there will be none. That is a sad truth, but it’s the truth nonetheless. It takes action and intention to keep traditions alive.”

When reflecting on her own family history, Alex shares that parts of her Lumbee culture have been lost due to the forced assimilation by the church. She knows first-hand the harm of being taught to forget your culture and has seen what a lack of identity can do to a community. She also knows there is great power in preserving and celebrating Indigenous culture and aims to support Native communities in Mexico through her business and in the United States through her partnership with First Nations.

To this end, Locklear Thomas has committed to allocating $2 from every pair of shoes purchased to First Nations.

Additionally, in a continued celebration of Native American Heritage Month, the company will be donating $5 for every Hope scarf purchased through the end of 2023. The 100% silk scarf features the White Buffalo, a symbol of hope, and vibrant colors that pay homage to the Native American Medicine Wheel. Purchase your scarf through Locklear Thomas directly.

“Native culture is a culture of really beautiful things. It’s lots of color, old wisdom, spirituality and love for the Earth, and that’s something that everyone benefits from,” says Alex.

You can purchase your own pair of huaraches online through Wolf and Badger or Locklear Thomas directly.

Follow on Locklear Thomas on Instagram @locklearthomasco.

First Nations extends our gratitude to Alex and all of Locklear Thomas. We value your support!