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As the conversation around fashion’s production process becomes more nuanced, designers of all sizes are finding ways in which they can support artisans while also offering transparency to inquiring customers. Gabriela Hearst is doing both. For her eponymous label’s spring/summer 2022 collection, the brand enlisted the expertise of Naiomi Glasses, a seventh-generation weaver (at least that’s how far she’s able to trace back the tradition in her lineage), to help create an offering for the warm-weather season.
“We were put in touch with Naiomi Glasses, a graduate from Creative Futures Collective, a diversity, equity, and inclusion marketplace for the creative industries, with a mission on empowering the next generation of creative leaders from disenfranchised communities,” Gabriela Hearst explains about how the partnership came about. “Naiomi is a proud, First Nations woman from Navajo Nation. She grew up skateboarding, is a weaver by trade, and is a passionate creative with wheels currently in motion to launch her own company.”
An integral part of the artist’s Diné (pronounced “di-neh”) culture—the preferred term by the Navajo community—the traditional weaving process is much more intricate than one can fathom. As Glasses takes the time to break down each step from start to finish, it becomes more and more apparent the level of precision that goes into each piece. “It’s a very beautiful craft, but it’s also a very time-intensive process,” she explains to BAZAAR.com. “I often say that the actual weaving portion is the quickest part, even though that’s still long. There’s the aspect of making your own wool by processing and raising the sheep, which is a full-time job.” From there, she talks about the two days it takes to shear them, not including the amount of time it takes to then prepare, dye, and spin the wool before the weaving even begins.
This technique showed up on the runway in the form of colorful-paneled trench coats with designs that, according to Glasses, were inspired by nature and different landscapes. There were also sleeveless tops detailed with the crafty design. Not to mention, fans of the brand’s Nina Bag will love the updated Bordeaux version with colorful woven trims along the handle.
“The work we did with the Navajo community was serendipitous and a spiritual gift,” the fashion designer says about the partnership. “It brought the Americas’ craft together in the collection. Being able to create beautiful pieces that are desirable and at the same time that empower others is probably one of the most satisfying professional experiences.” Consider it truly American couture.
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