It’s no question the impact that historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have had not only on our culture, but mainstream culture as a whole. Today, that rang true as Ralph Lauren’s partnership with Morehouse College and Spelman College expanded to new heights. Rolling out a limited-edition collection inspired by the rich history of the schools, the first-of-its kind collaboration is reminiscent of old days on the esteemed campuses.
The robust collection includes outerwear, knits, tailored suits, dresses, footwear, accessories and more, and are direct references to the posh and poised styles worn by Morehouse and Spelman students from the ’20s to ’50s.
Let’s face it, all of us have gazed at throwback HBCU photos with adoration, wishing we could take a step back in time to experience the rich culture. This is your chance.
“This collection expresses the spirited history, deep sense of community and legacy of timeless dressing at historically Black colleges and universities,” says Ralph Lauren, Executive Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Ralph Lauren Corporation in a press release. “It’s so much more than a portrayal of a collegiate design sensibility. It’s about sharing a more complete and authentic portrait of American style and of the American dream – ensuring stories of Black life and experiences are embedded in the inspiration and aspiration of our brand.”
The collection is one of a continued partnership with the retailer and the colleges. In 2020, the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation pledged $2 million to support scholarships for students at Morehouse College, Spelman College and 10 other HBCUs through the United Negro College Fund. Furthermore, Ralph Lauren is charting new paths for the Black talent of Morehouse and Spelman through internships, recruitment, mentorship and development programs.
“Historically Black colleges and universities have uniquely been centers of both intellectual discourse and cultural influence for more than 150 years,” says David A. Thomas, Ph.D., President of Morehouse College. “The Morehouse partnership with Ralph Lauren intelligently, creatively and boldly puts this intersection on full display, reflecting the breadth of impact we have had in driving societal transformation throughout our history.”
The spectacular and nostalgic campaign is a multifaceted rollout including digital and in-store presentations, including the film, “A Portrait of the American Dream,” which serves as a yearbook of sorts detailing the founding and historical significance of HBCUs. In it, archival imagery of the campuses over the decades paired with current images including faculty, staff, alumni and students.
“Spelman College’s culture is a powerful combination of both community engagement and confident self-invention. This collection celebrates the inventiveness of individual style, when it intersects boldly with institutional tradition, such as the choices on display in the wearing of white attire,” says Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., President of Spelman College. “By sharing the early history of Spelman, as reflected in archival research, through clothing, the collection encourages conversations about the creative power of the Black experience and the ways in which a personal fashion aesthetic intersects with institutional values of solidarity and connection.”
The film premieres on March 28 at 7:30 p.m. EDT on select Ralph Lauren social channels. The yearbook will be available digitally alongside the film on March 29 on RalphLauren.com. The collection will be available to global consumers on March 29 on RalphLauren.com, the Polo App, the Ralph Lauren App, Morehouse College and Spelman College Follett campus bookstores and in select Ralph Lauren stores.