An Aboriginal jacket with ties to Manitoba’s Red River region has traveled the world and ended up in a thrift store in England – and now store staff are hoping to find out more about the coat.
The jacket made its way to Glass Onion – one of the UK’s leading vintage clothing companies – thanks to a vintage clothing ball from the USA.
Alice Leadbetter, who works for the company, told Glass Onion staff, “immediately knew that this particular piece was really special because of the detailing and the age of the fabric.”
“We had never seen a jacket like this before, so we knew it was something really special,” Leadbetter said in an interview with CTV Morning Live on Tuesday.
Leadbetter explained that the jacket is soft and made from buckskin. She added that there was lots of detailing on the fringe, as well as intricate beading.
“You can tell it was all done by hand, by someone who really cares. It’s really beautiful,” she said.
The Glass Onion found this coat in a bale of vintage clothing from the USA. (Source: TikTok/Glass Onion Vintage)
To learn more about the jacket and its origins, Glass Onion staff turned to TikTok as they needed an expert on Indigenous clothing – and users of the social media platform did not disappoint.
“We just had an incredible response. I think the original video now has about half a million views. Everyone was very helpful in the comments, recommending places, federations and government bodies we could get in touch with,” Leadbetter said.
From there, Glass Onion got in touch with Maureen Matthews of the Manitoba Museum, who determined that the jacket dates to the early to mid-1800s based on the chain stitches on the pockets.
“It was a style of embroidery that was taught in the Red River area before the 1850s,” Leadbetter said.
Matthews also thinks the jacket is likely mixed-race, made for a family member or fur trader.
Today, the Glass Onion continues its research. Leadbetter added that they posted another TikTok video to follow up on some of the leads the company got from their earlier video.
“[We are] still in the initial research phase. Hopefully, we can narrow it down even further to a specific province or region and go from there,” she said.
– With files from CTV’s Rachel Lagace.