by Stephen Garner

Canadian retailer Harry Rosen has teamed up with Toronto Raptors president and Giants of Africa co-founder Masai Ujiri on a project focused on raising funds for charity, bringing new Black designers into the famed retailer, and ultimately reminding the world that there’s more that unites us than divides us.

At the center of the collaboration is the idea of humanity, expressed through fashion – one of the many ways people choose to show who they are. A seven-piece athleisure capsule designed by Ujiri and Canadian designer Patrick Assaraf features the word ‘Humanity’ in Ujiri’s handwriting.

“This year we have been consumed by the twin pandemics of COVID and racism. We need to find a cure for both, urgently,” Ujiri said. “No one expects a t-shirt to change the world, but each of us committing to look at one other as human beings and really see the humanity in everyone is a good start. See the word. Have the conversation. Really talk to each other. Remember that our humanity is the first thing we all have in common. Once we recognize that we share that connection, we can find others.”

Net proceeds from the sale of the collection will go to Black Youth Helpline, an organization that provides young people with access to culturally relevant, high-quality services and resources in their local community. Helpline’s diverse programming includes crisis counseling, strategies for staying in school, and support for families, schools, and communities.

“We are incredibly grateful to Masai Ujiri and Harry Rosen for their steadfast commitment to youth from Canada’s underrepresented backgrounds and under-resourced communities,” said Barbara Thompson, founder and executive director of Black Youth Helpline. “Now more than ever, there is a need to support and empower Canada’s disadvantaged youth. This transformative partnership will propel us as we develop and execute new strategies for education, and community well-being in support of keeping Canada’s vulnerable youth on track to successful futures.”

Sparked by the collaboration and inspired by Harry Rosen’s commitment to diversifying its shelves, the brand has signed George Sully, the creator of Sully and Son, and the founder of Black Designers of Canada. Beginning in the spring, Sully will be among a growing roster of BIPOC designers offered by the fashion retailer.

“Events of the last year have impressed upon us that the status quo is not good enough and that we all need to do better,” added Larry Rosen, CEO of Harry Rosen. “From working with inspiring role models to opening more doors of opportunity, we are committed to making the Canadian fashion industry more equitable.”