Polo Ralph Lauren Launches "Artist In Residence" Program with Navajo Textile Artist Naiomi Glasses

Glasses’ collection celebrates Navajo artistry through prints, patterns and colors inspired by her Navajo Nation upbringing and her own artwork.

Fashion
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Polo Ralph Lauren has launched its new “Artist In Residence” program by partnering with textile artist Naiomi Glasses for an expansive collection, the first of three collections that Glasses will create for the brand. A seventh-generation Diné (Navajo) textile artist and weaver, Glasses has brought her distinct vision and ancestral designs to various pieces adorned with traditional Navajo motifs, like four-directional crosses, spider woman crosses, dragonflies and wedge weaves.

These motifs appear across a swath of pieces inspired by by the lands of the Navajo Nation, with highlights including woven jaquard blankets and coats with undyed wool that spotlights natural colors, contrasted by thicket jackets and ranch coats. There’s also a selection of pieces crafted to reflect Glasses’ personal style, mostly classic Polo offerings like sweaters, polo shirts and baseball caps that offer the collection’s inspirations in a contemporary fashion.

The “Artist In Residence” program was created by Polo Ralph Lauren to more directly spotlight and collaborate with the communities that both inspire and champion its products instead of merely pulling inspiration from them. While showing Hypebeast the collection at the Polo Manson in New York City, Glasses acknowledged that she felt some initial trepidation when approached by the brand — she wanted to be sure that both she and her people’s story were told with the proper nuance — but that trepidation quickly melted away when she realized how the collection could spotlight Indigenous American artists, as well as introduce the storied history of Navajo craft and design to a wider audience. “Indigenous artists don’t usually get these big collaborations because no one really looks to our communities,” she said. “But with this [partnership], it’s beautiful because we get to celebrate our artists, and it’ll also open so many doors for others.”

“Preserving these traditions in new ways has been so inspiring to me as an artist,” she added. “To now be able to share it with people around the world, as seen through my eyes and brought to life in clothing, is a dream come true.”

To help tie the collection’s story together, the lookbook features Glasses’ friends and family, and was shot on Navajo Nation land by Ryan RedCorn of the Osage Nation and Daryn Sells, herself a member of the Navajo Nation. Glasses also curated a selection of handcrafted silver and turquoise jewelry created by six artisian families from the Navajo Nation, Hopi Pueblo, San Felipe Pueblo and Zuni Pueblo, all pieces of which are 1:1 and will be sold through Ralph Lauren’s channels. Last but not least, a percentage of the purchase price from sales of the first drop of the Polo Ralph Lauren x Naiomi Glasses Collection will benefit Change Labs, a “Native-led organization focused on fostering the creation of successful Navajo and Hopi small businesses,” per a press release from Ralph Lauren.

“Heritage and tradition are at the center of everything I love — things that encompass both beauty and utility, that are uncontrived and personal and are passed down for generations,” said Ralph Lauren himself. “Bringing the most authentic expression of heritage craft to life means working with those who have created and sustained these timeless traditions for centuries and sharing their stories with the world. That is the opportunity that awaits us — and that will be a valued part of the legacy of our Company.”

The collection is available now via the Ralph Lauren webstore, and you can expect Glasses’ next duo of collections with the brand to drop in 2024.

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