‘Really beautiful’: Indigenous jacket with ties to Red River region discovered by U.K. thrift shop

An Indigenous jacket with connections to Manitoba’s Red River area has journeyed across the world and found its way to a thrift shop in England – and now, staff at the store are hoping to find out more about the coat.

The jacket made its way to the Glass Onion – one of the U.K.’s leading vintage clothing companies — through a bale of vintage clothing from the United States.

Alice Leadbetter, who works for the company, said the Glass Onion staff, “instantly knew that particular piece was really special because of the detailing on it and the age of the fabric.”

“We’d never seen a jacket quite like that before, so we knew it was something really special,” Leadbetter said in an interview with CTV Morning Live on Tuesday.

Leadbetter explained the jacket is soft and made from buck hide. She added that it has a lot of detailing on the fringe, as well as intricate beading.

“You can tell it’s all been done by hand, by somebody that really cares. It’s really beautiful,” she said.

The Glass Onion found this coat in a bale of vintage clothing from the United States. (Source: TikTok/Glass Onion Vintage)

To learn more about the jacket and its origins, staff at the Glass Onion turned to TikTok, as they needed an expert in Indigenous clothing – and users of the social media platform did not disappoint.

“We just had an amazing response. I think the original video has got like half a million views now. Everyone was so helpful in the comments, recommending places, federations, and government bodies that we could get in touch with,” Leadbetter said.

From there, the Glass Onion connected with Maureen Matthews from the Manitoba Museum, who determined the jacket is from the early to mid-1800s based on the chain stitching on the pockets.

“That was a style of embroidery that was taught in the Red River region before the 1850s,” Leadbetter said.

Matthews also believes the jacket is likely Metis, made for a family member or a fur trader.

Now, the Glass Onion is continuing its research. Leadbetter added they have put out another TikTok video to follow up on some of the leads the company got from its previous video.

“[We are] still in the initial research phase. Hopefully, we can whittle it down even further to a specific province or region even more so and just go from there,” she said.

– With files from CTV’s Rachel Lagace.


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