TikTok Skateboarder and Navajo Weaver Naiomi Glasses Talks Polo Ralph Lauren Collaboration and Representation

The open air and natural beauty of the Navajo Nation in northeastern Arizona is far removed from the round-the-clock hustle of New York City, but Naiomi Glasses has tied the two together.

Three months after the debut of her collaborative collection with the American label, the seventh-generation Diné textile artist and weaver is rolling out the second installment of what is a yearlong joint effort. Reached at her family’s ranch Tuesday, Glasses said she is still trying to get used to being recognized by strangers, as she was on Madison Avenue during a recent trip to New York.

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The Ralph Lauren connection has not only magnified her life, but also her community. The attention is still novel, despite having struck viral fame a few years ago with a TikTok post of her skateboarding on sandstone in the desert that has racked up 1.8 million views.

Polo Ralph Lauren x Naiomi Glasses
Naiomi Glasses is featured skateboarding in the new campaign.

All in all though, living “in the middle of nowhere,” Glasses said, “we’re very off-the-grid so I don’t come in contact with [that many] people all the time. I’m kind of in a little bubble out here.”

That may be, but her surroundings and her artistic heritage continue to benefit the masses and foster a great appreciation for the Navajo Nation and Indigenous people in general.

Acknowledging how much “Killers of the Flower Moon” actress Lily Gladstone has helped to bolster Indigenous representation in the media, Glasses also praised model Quannah ChasingHorse, actress Amber Midthunder and the FX teen-centered series “Reservation Dogs” as some of the other contributors. She added, “We as Indigenous people are having our big moment. I really hope that it’s not just a moment, but something that continues and we can just become mainstays as part of the bigger world.”

Asked why such recognition of Indigenous people hadn’t happened sooner, Glasses chalked that up to timing. “At this time, when everyone is calling for change and more representation, this is the right time and the right moment for it.” She speculated that 20 years ago increased exposure wouldn’t have been as impactful, given how much more engaged people are now on social media, how much easier it is to reach artists and how more people are increasingly willing to listen.

The just-out Polo Ralph Lauren x Naiomi Glasses’ “Color in Motion” drop features 24 styles of women’s, men’s and unisex styles in bold colors and Glasses’ contemporary takes on Navajo motifs such as four-directional crosses. In addition, Glasses, an avid turquoise and silver collector, has curated a selection of handcrafted silver and turquoise jewelry from six Navajo and Hopi artisan families. Those pieces are showcased in the campaign and can be purchased online and in select flagships.

Polo Ralph Lauren x Naiomi Glasses
Polo Ralph Lauren x Naiomi Glasses

Accustomed to lengthy drives to deal with everyday necessities like hauling water, Glasses said those travels have helped to sharpen her focus on the natural landscape, such as “how the sun rests on the horizon at sunset,” which often leads to design inspiration. However vibrant the new collection is, Glasses said she is accustomed to such bold hues. ”I pulled a lot of inspiration from different parts of our surroundings. When I look at some of the designs, it almost feels like home to me,” she said.

Once again the new campaign was shot by a Native crew that included Ryan RedCorn (Osage) and Daryn Sells (Diné/Navajo) and this time Shaandiin Tome (Navajo) handled the video. — and features some of Glasses’ friends and fellow community members. All in all, Glasses is excited to see how the initiative will influence and inspire future generations.

While a $1,198 wrap and $298 embroidered jeans were bestsellers from the first sold-out collection, Glasses expects a colorful $498 coach’s jacket to be popular for round two.

Polo Ralph Lauren x Naiomi Glasses
The latest Polo Ralph Lauren x Naiomi Glasses’ collection incorporates contemporary takes on Navajo motifs.

A percentage of the sales from the collection will benefit Phoenix Children’s Foundation Patient and Family Assistance Funds for Native American Families and the Center for Cleft & Craniofacial Care. Glasses understands the importance of helping families — including Indigenous and Native American ones — seek treatment, having had a bilateral cleft repair as a child with the foundation’s support.

The 27-year-old said that as a high school graduate nine years ago she had shared her interest in giving weaving a go with her parents. Supportive as they were, Glasses said she was encouraged to be more definitive about her plans. In turn, she put Ralph Lauren at the top of her wish list to collaborate with for clothing. “Now to see that come to fruition after having spent all of those years seated at my loom, visualizing what that might look like. I had never even been in New York until 2021. I feel like this is something that only happened in a dream, and now here it has happened.”

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