· By Alyssa Papa

Meet Pre&Peri

By Arpita Quadir

“What do you think of when you think of the current position of the Indigenous fashion industry?” I think of access, said Caitlin Wemigwans, owner and designer of local streetwear brand Pre&Peri and member of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Reserve

Pre&Peri is an ethical local streetwear brand based in the GTA. The brand features art created by Wemigwans and aims to educate customers about Indigenous issues and culture. Pre and peri are prefixes, meaning before and after. Pre refers to pre-colonial Indigenous heritage, and peri refers to colonial culture, merging the two meanings. A recurring phrase on the designs from Pre&Peri is ‘Made in Turtle Island.’ The phrase is a play on words that refers to what many Indigenous people call North America. The name Turtle Island comes from an Indigenous creation story and because the land resembles a turtle. 

The brand is focused on social equity and ethically sourced materials to provide products for customers that are meaningful and lasting. Pre&Peri has been operating for almost three years, and they have been at Ethical Local Market for nearly two of those years. Wemigwans discovered ELM while driving past the shop located down Queen Street East. She was drawn to the clean, modern, and warm environment of the store so when approached to join the store in its mission to promote equity and fair trade local products, Wemigwans was elated to join.

The store owner and founder of ELM, Nurjahan Begum, invited Pre&Peri to join the store to continue building a community that offers a selection of products that originate from all over the globe and celebrate diversity. ELM wants to have a space available to build up sustainable brands like Pre&Peri. To maintain sustainable means of production and offer support to local makers, Pre&Peri produces all of its products in Canada. Begum learned a lot about Indigenous culture from Pre&Peri. The imagery and designs on their products all have a story to tell, and she hopes to extend the same learnings to customers by having the brand available at ELM. 

Wemigwans expressed the convenience of having a storefront, such as the one that ELM has provided for her brand. She expects to stay at ELM as the store continues to expand, and her brand grows alongside it. As the brand develops, Wemigwans hopes to expand Pre&Peri to wholesale production, partner with other local stores, and branch out to varying sides of fashion such as runway designs. 

Local brands like Pre&Peri collaborate with local spaces such as ELM to showcase Indigenous-made products and encourage spreading knowledge of Indigenous culture. Pre&Peri is a brand built on resilience, and ELM will stand by its side while the brand continues to be a changemaker in the community.