April 30, 2012

Designer Profile | Shayne Watson

Navajo designer Shayne Watson is inspired by the teachings of his grandmother, a Navajo seamstress. At only the age of 25, Watson's career is off to a great start. His award-winning outfits are created with traditional styles in mind (think: Navajo velvet and broomstick skirts), but with a contemporary twist, and he often uses unconventional color schemes and patterns - so you get to see blouses in lime green and dresses in tangerine peach.

For Watson, fashion isn't just an outlet for his creativity; it's a way for him to explore his cultural heritage. Watson said he has been designing clothes for several years in the way his grandmother taught him.

"It's just always been a passion of mine," he explained. He also said that his blending of traditional clothing with contemporary styles helps people see that, while Native people are still deeply rooted in their cultures, that's not all they're about. "People stereotype Native Americans," he said. "They still think we live in Hoghaans."

Watson was recently featured in the annual American Indian Graduate Student Association (AIGSA) Fashion Show as part of Arizona State University Culture Week events in Tempe, AZ (all images in this post are from that event). Originally from Chinle, Watson attended Arizona State University and currently lives in Tempe. His designs have been featured in the Women of the Navajo magazine and calendar, and the Navajo Times.