A Little History
Okay, on the downside if we were Navajo (pronounced nah-vuh-ho) people then I wouldn’t be sitting at my laptop (as you most likely are now) observing the websites that bring us all the latest fashion news. Instead we would be out in Arizona hunting for the food essential for the survival of our tribes. On the upside, we would be doing it all ahead of the trend.
In all seriousness though, it just seems plain wrong to take inspiration from something we know nothing about so I’ve done a little digging. The Navajo people are historically known for their ability to weave and their choice of patterning, which predominantly consists of horizontal stripes, rectangles and diamonds to create an overall geometric design. Some researchers that have focused on the design have even stated that the symmetry exhibited in their fabrics represents their traditional ideas of harmony – I don’t think a trend could be any more fitting for the summer that I’m imagining.
On the Runway – Missoni
I scanned the runway for Native inspiration and it’s fair to say that Missoni’s 2011 S/S collection carries the torch for Navajo influence. Angela Missoni, who took over menswear in 2008, described the male models wearing her collection as a tribe; displaying garments which drew inspiration from leisurewear being worn outside. Featuring fabrics that ranged from cottons to linen, you can see the attraction of the collection through its bright flashes of colour in yellows, greens and reds that dominate the runway and capture the essence of the famous Navajo weaves:
On the High Street
Now I am pretty sure that the designers on the high street haven’t woven their pieces on the upright looms that the Navajo people did but the authenticity of the products are good enough for us to be able to incorporate the trend. I think you’ll know by now that from my previous articles I’m a bit of a Chief for Topman when it comes to product picks but no other shop on the high street is doing this trend as much justice.
Closely followed by ASOS, the two super retailers have created a collection of garments that are perfect in order to create an outfit that depicts the trend – whether you want bold statement pieces, or a more muted and subtle take. Remember to not overdo it though – one geometric pattern too much and you’ll look like a page out of one of those 3D books.
Mid-Range & Designer
Other designers are also jumping on the bandwagon and joining the Navajo crowd. ASOS also features higher end designer pieces that take the look from head to toe and online stores that are based on a designer collective are worth exploring to find the perfect piece for you.
How To Wear
Obviously with such a stand-out and dominant pattern, integrating Navajo into your outfits can be tough if you do not consider your basics. As with any bold pattern, the trick is to let the piece become the focal point of your whole outfit and tone down the rest of your look so you don’t become a walking hallucination or (even worse) a caricature of the trend you are trying to portray.
This would mean mixing bold Navajo tees or cardigans with more muted pieces such as block colour chinos, jeans or jackets. With the trend being influenced by the Earthy nature of the tribes, look for detailing that will reinforce it such as worn in vintage washes, distressing to denim, and loose weave knits.
Navajo Look Book
Below we have a collection of images showing you how a variety of retailers integrated the trend into their look books this year. We will then break down a couple of the looks to see a few different ways you can integrate this trend into your summer outfits:
ASOS have really managed to hit the look right on the nose this year, and their whole look book had a very Earthy and Aztec inspired vibe running through it. The top two looks are perfect for high summer and/or festivals you might be going to. I particularly love how they have managed to pick two more understated Navajo pieces in the black tee and vest, and paired them with bold striped shorts and a pastel orange pair.
It just goes to show that you can integrate any trend (no matter your first instincts) into your outfits without having to sacrifice your whole look, or rearranging your wardrobe – just pick up subtle pieces which hint at it, and then add your personal flair through surrounding items and accessories.
In these two outfits you can see that they have individualised them through accessories and hats. I love the wooden pendant they through on [top row right], and this ties the whole look together through the use of material and styling. Canvas is another great choice [bag, top row right], as it is a natural material and very outdoorsy/rugged – again tying the theme of the outfit together perfectly.
The second row of photos shows how you can go wild with your footwear but still integrate it into your everyday looks. These simple, lightweight canvas shoes with Navajo print will be your go-to all summer long, and can be slipped on with any muted outfit to give it an injection of colour, pattern and life. See how Urban Outfitters paired bold red Navajo shoes with a simple Breton knit and chinos [middle row left] for an easy to wear casual look with a real focal point:
Finally, the last row of images shows you how you can get a Navajo inspired look by just using some key accessories. ASOS have again utilised wooden necklaces, rosary beads and tooth pendants to create this very primal and Earthy look [bottom row left/middle], whilst the use of the loose weave knit again just reinforces this theme.
I was browsing through the look books and noticed this Zara image [bottom row right] which simply nodded at the trend through a rolled geo-metric print bandanna on the wrist, as well as the wooden/rope bracelets (and I would imagine the neck pendants are similar if you could see them). Again, this is just an easy way to integrate Navajo inspired accessories into your everyday outfit, whilst adding some flair to your looks.
Navajo Top Tip
The key point you need to take away today is this: A safe way to tackle the trend is to be discrete; just because I’ve said Aztec, Navajo and Arizona all in the same article does not justify headdresses, ponchos or any other over the top piece that looks as though it’s come straight out of a cowboys and Indians film.
Take a look at the shoes (or accessories) and combine them with other summer essentials such as chinos or worn looking jeans. As long as you don’t look to pristine you’ll pull it off.
So What Do You Think?
- Would you fit in with the Navajo crowd?
- Are you more of an urbanite then an Arizonian warrior?
- Or does looking at geometrics for too long just hurt your eyes?
Let us know in the comments below…