From the 'rez' to the city: Fashion blogger's on a mission to prove that Native Americans 'exist'

Kiah Torres was born on a reservation in Arizona, inspiring her style blog Rez to the City, which boasts 14,000 followers on Instagram. (Photo: Courtesy of Kiah Torres)

Kiah Torres is not your average fashion blogger — in the best way. Born on a reservation in Parker, Ariz., she is a “proud member” of the Colorado River Indian Tribes, a federally recognized group consisting of four tribes: Chemehuevi, Mohave, Hopi, and Navajo. Torres is half Hopi-Tewa and half African-American, but she spent the first 18 years of her life on the “rez,” as she calls it.

The reservation — situated on a mesa overlooking the Colorado River — offered limited access to fashion. But thanks to a stylish mom, the seeds of Torres’s impeccable style were planted early. “My love for fashion was definitely inherited from my mother,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “She loved fashion and bought monthly issues of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Harper’s Bazaar.” 

Photo: Courtesy of Kiah Torres

After leafing through the magazines as a young girl, Torres would create looks inspired by the designs she’d seen on the page, mixing new things and old. “I can remember the Tom Ford for Gucci ads in the ’90s,” she says. “I had to find me a button-up silky blouse! I’m pretty sure I found one at Express and paired it with a pair of black slacks from Lane Bryant,” she laughs.

Eventually, Torres left the rez to earn a business degree in college. But her love for fashion never wavered — and when she started to notice how few curvy women were represented in the fashion world, she decided it needed her voice. “I started blogging when I saw the lack of plus-size girls represented in fashion,” she says. “I wanted to prove that style is sizeless.”

And prove it she does.

Now living in Dallas with her husband and teenage daughter, Torres works a day job in corporate America and spends her free time running a blog that takes its name from her roots: From the Rez to the City (Rez to the City, for short). Wearing bold prints and colors, in everything from pantsuits to wrap dresses, Torres posts images of herself that nearly pop off the screen.

Photo: Courtesy of Kiah Torres

Her blog’s corresponding Instagram page (@ReztotheCity) boasts 14,000 followers — who come for a mix of plus-size fashion, Native American history, and beauty tips. While she now embraces her curves, Torres says getting there was a journey. “I had to work through depression. I couldn’t shop at my favorite stores because they stopped at size 14,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I remember leaving a store nearly in tears because I couldn’t fit in any of the pants.”

It wasn’t until she passed a Lane Bryant window one day that her mindset changed. “I went in and found pants that fit!” she exclaims. “LB will always hold a special place in my heart because they helped me wipe away the tears from my eyes. LB was selling clothes in real-women sizes.”

That’s not to say Torres doesn’t still have hard days. In a recent post on Instagram, she opened up about insecurity surrounding her midsection.

It’s this spirit of inclusion that Torres will be participating in next weekend at this year’s edition of theCurvyCon, a star-studded three-day event featuring some of the major voices in plus-size fashion. There she’ll be among curvy fashion blogger, brands, YouTubers, and others to — in the words of the event’s founders — “chat curvy, shop curvy, and embrace curvy.”

But while there will be many curvy fashion bloggers in attendance, there is only one Torres. And in the fashion world, where designers are often criticized for exploiting Native American culture, her point of view is critical. That makes her mission twofold: to give both curvy women and Native Americans a voice.

If anyone seems up to the challenge — it’s her.

“My heritage is my identity, not an accessory,” she says proudly. “I’m standing in a fashion world full of non-natives exclaiming Native Americans exist. We’re real, and we love fashion.”

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