Cover Photo: Ralph Lauren

For its new collection, the American brand collaborates with historically Black colleges to spotlight their heritage of collegiate fashion

In an ode to American fashion, Polo Ralph Lauren is dropping a collection inspired by the history of Black collegiate style. The clothes are made in collaboration with two historically Black colleges, Spelman and Morehouse; they reference Black collegiate style from the 1920s to 1950s, drawing on the distinctive style of the colleges' students. The collection serves to honour the heritage and traditions of Black colleges in America.

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The collection is accompanied by the first Ralph Lauren campaign consisting of an all-Black cast of models and creatives, including acclaimed photographer Nadine Ijewere. In fact, the models in this collection are mostly made up of students, faculty members and alumni from the universities. This is also the first time the fashion brand has partnered with an institution of higher learning for a collection. 

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The capsule is designed by Ralph Lauren directors of design, Dara Douglas and James Jeter, whose alma maters are Spelman and Morehouse, respectively. To ensure authenticity and accuracy of the historical representation of Black heritage in the collection, the team scoured through pages of archives and shared images and historical artefacts between their two schools. Many of the pieces in the capsule take inspiration from the idiosyncratic traditions of the two schools, such as Spelman’s signature white attire as well as its induction ceremony.

The capsule reexamines and debunks the narrative that American collegiate style was born out of Ivy League campuses like Yale and Harvard. Through the launch of the capsule, the brand hopes to encourage more discourse vis-a-vis the creative expression of the Black experience. 

The collection will be launched on March 29. It will be available for purchase on the label's Polo app, the Ralph Lauren website, and the bookstores of both participating colleges.

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Along with the launch of the capsule, the American fashion brand has also produced a short film titled “A Portrait of the American Dream” that is set to premiere on March 28. The film will be available across all of Ralph Lauren’s social channels. Additionally, a commemorative yearbook entailing the origins and historical significance of Black colleges will also be available for purchase following the launch of the collegiate-inspired collection.

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