Ralph Lauren Debuts a New Collection with Two HBCUs

Ralph Lauren Collabs with HBCUs Morehouse and Spelman in a New Collection

Ralph Lauren puts a spotlight on Black fashion with a new HBCU capsule collection in collaboration with Morehouse College and Spelman College. The clothes will honor Black fashion and the contribution the HBCUs have added to it.

Black students have been trendsetters for decades, now their style will be credited while also highlighting the history of the 1950s and how fashion played a role in events like the Civil Rights Movement. 

This was Ralph Lauren’s first campaign worked on by a completely Black creative team, with Nadine Ijewere as the fashion photographer on the project. 

“For me, the significance of this campaign is that we are the ones telling our stories,” Ijewere told Vogue. “We are the ones that are in control of the image that gets put out there and what we’re trying to say, what we’re trying to highlight.” In this case, it’s a story of American endeavor that isn’t told often enough — and a deeply compelling one, at that.  

There will be odes to Spelman traditions in the collection like a ‘S’ on a sweatshirt inspired by the college’s newsletter and the white dress resembling what students would wear on formal occasions. The Morehouse legacy will be honored as well, with the founding number ‘67 representing both the college’s and Lauren’s origins. 

“It was really important to steep this in history to show that this is not new,” Morehouse College alum and the Ralph Lauren Director of Concept Design and Special Projects, James Jeter said in an interview with WWD. “A lot of this project was really about changing ownership around how we think about clothing. So who owns three-piece suits? Who owns cable cardigans? Who owns the circle skirt, for instance? And while it’s typically and historically been relegated to Ivy League schools, if you see a lot of these archival images from [Morehouse and] Spelman, that has really helped to inform a lot of the way that we approached not only the design but the way that we approached the campaigns as well.”

The Ralph Lauren brand has been known as a staple in American fashion for years. Last year’s Met Gala theme “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” was all about honoring American fashion. At the event Ralph Lauren dressed Black stars like athlete Russell Westbrook, Chance the Rapper, and his wife Kirsten Corley in styles that represented their perspectives of American fashion. Now, the brand will continue to celebrate Black fashion, specifically within the two HBCUs, with the collection available to the public on March 29, 2022. 

“I think that this just shows how committed [Ralph Lauren is] to being able to expand the narrative of American style…who owns American style and what does that look like. Everybody should be able to be a part of that and see themselves reflected in that and I hope that it’s inspiring” Spelman alum and Ralph Lauren Director of Inspirational Content and the Ralph Lauren Library, Dara Douglas told WWD.

On March 28, 2022, a day prior to the release of the collection, Ralph Lauren will show the commemorative film  “A Portrait of the American Dream,” which will discuss more of the colleges’ history. Both the collection and the film will be available on Ralph Lauren’s website

Featured Image via Ralph Lauren/YouTube.