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Viral Navajo weaver collabs with Ralph Lauren as first artist in residence

Naiomi Glasses in a promo shoot for her second collection with Polo Ralph Lauren, Color in Motion.
Polo Ralph Lauren
Naiomi Glasses in a promo shoot for her second collection with Polo Ralph Lauren, Color in Motion.

Naiomi Glasses found fame on social media after clips of her skateboarding in traditional clothing on the Navajo Nation went viral. She then used her platform to bring attention to Diné culture through her weavings and design, grabbing Ralph Lauren's attention, making her the brand’s first artist-in-residence. The fashion house has been accused in the past of culturally appropriating Indigenous cultures and designs, but says with Glasses’ new collection, it’s shifted more toward collaboration with Native artists. KNAU’s Bree Burkitt spoke with her about the work.

Your first big break on social media was through skateboarding. How did you come about that? How did that even happen? And what was it like to see that response?

NAIOMI GLASSES: I didn't always skate on the red rocks, but it was something that kind of happened during the pandemic, really. I would kind of just try to get my thrills by skating sandstone. And with me, skateboarding has always been a place to decompress, and I think that's why I was so drawn to it as a kid. When I was five, it was just a place for me to, like, just calmly meditate and, like, to reflect back on my day and to decompress because I was facing bullying as a kid — for being born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. And so skateboarding has always just been a place of solace for me.

@naiomiglasses Just trying to be as cool as @420doggface208 💁🏽‍♀️ #indigenous #fyp #foryou #nativetiktok ♬ Dreams (2004 Remaster) - Fleetwood Mac

And when you describe this collection, you call it "a love letter to your people." What was it like to design something — these pieces that for a lot of the country and world — this might be the first time they're encountering the Diné culture? What was it like to have that responsibility?

GLASSES: It has been absolutely beautiful to be able to share a bit of our culture with people and to let people know that we as Indigenous peoples are still here. And to be able to share it on such a huge platform. It's like there's this responsibility, but there's, like, beauty in being able to tell authentically who we are through our lens and to be able to share it with the world. And so, I'm so appreciative of being able to do that. Like you said, it’s a big responsibility, but I think it's just… it's long overdue. It's beautiful being able to be this representation and to open this door for others after me.

The campaign features indigenous models and photographers. Why was it so important to bring that perspective to every aspect of the project? Because that’s not common.

GLASSES: I think where it comes from is also because it's a dream of mine. It’s been a dream of mine to work with Ralph Lauren. When they officially got me on as the RL Artist in Residence, I was like, “I have this dream to be able to include all these other amazing indigenous creatives and I think it'd be awesome if we could bring them along with us.” So, I came with a list of models and photographers and makeup artists, hair stylists… even caterers I really like. So that very first collection, I really wanted it to be rooted in not only the love of the land, but when I think of the land, I think of my family and the people that I love so much.

A promotional image from the first collection of Polo Ralph Lauren x Naiomi Glasses Collaboration, Love of the Land.
Polo Ralph Lauren
A promotional image from the first collection of Polo Ralph Lauren x Naiomi Glasses Collaboration, Love of the Land.

As you were designing the collection, how did you balance sort of these more traditional motifs with the very now elements of some of Ralph Lauren's collections?

GLASSES: I notice in a lot of older weavings —There are some that were neutral palettes, but then there are also some that were super bright and super colorful once we introduced to dye. It’s like seeing the stark contrast in those, but you also see how fun and contemporary everything feels, even though it was woven like back in the 1800s. It’s amazing seeing that they've always had that eye and like something that’s technically old can feel new. So that's kind of what I tried to do with the collections here. It's like weaving designs and stuff that comes from a craft that's older than me, obviously. It's been in our family for seven generations, but to be able to bring it to something new, like clothing, and to have it come to life on so many different materials other than just through wool. It's been amazing being able to do that and show people the beauty of our Diné culture.

Naiomi glasses — thank you so much and good luck.

GLASSES: Oh, thank you so much. It was so great talking with you, Bree!

Bree Burkitt is the host of Morning Edition and a reporter for KNAU. Contact her at