Ralph Lauren has expanded its partnership with Morehouse and Spelman Colleges, unveiling a limited-edition collection inspired by the schools’ rich heritage and esteemed traditions. The Polo Ralph Lauren Exclusively for Morehouse and Spelman Colleges Collection is a first-of-its kind collaboration for the company, seeking to honor the history of both schools and widen the aperture of Ralph Lauren’s storytelling, including the nature of life at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), a story untold in depictions of Ralph Lauren’s collegiate sensibility until today.
“This collection expresses the spirited history, deep sense of community and legacy of timeless dressing at historically Black colleges and universities,” said Ralph Lauren. “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.”
Conceptualized and designed by Morehouse and Spelman alumni at Ralph Lauren, the collection also marks the first time the brand has produced a campaign with an all-Black cast including its photographer, creative directors, cinematographer and talent, predominantly comprising students, faculty and alumni at both institutions. The campaign was shot by internationally acclaimed fashion photographer Nadine Ijewere.
“Historically Black colleges and universities have uniquely been centers of both intellectual discourse and cultural influence for more than 150 years,” said 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.”
Consumers can experience the story of this collection beyond the product. The company has also produced an accompanying film, “A Portrait of the American Dream.” A commemorative yearbook, detailing the founding and historical significance of HBCUs through the lens of Morehouse and Spelman, demonstrates the use of style as an expression of aspiration, a form of self-empowerment and a tool of resistance. Both feature rare archival imagery from each college juxtaposed against collection imagery on the campuses’ iconic landscapes, with commentary from the presidents of both colleges and several faculty, alumni and student cast members present throughout the campaign.
The film premieres on March 28, 2022, at 7:30 p.m. EDT on select Ralph Lauren social channels. The yearbook will be available digitally on March 29, 2022, on RalphLauren.com. The collection will be available on March 29, 2022, on RalphLauren.com, the Polo App, the Ralph Lauren App, Morehouse College and Spelman College Follett campus bookstores and in select Ralph Lauren stores while quantities last.
In 2020, Ralph Lauren made a series of commitments to take action on racial equity and reexamine how the company portrays the American dream, mindful of its unique position in defining, interpreting and depicting Americana worldwide. Aligned with these commitments, the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation pledged $2 million to support scholarships for students at Morehouse College, Spelman College and 10 additional HBCUs through the United Negro College Fund in December 2021. The company is also actively facilitating career pathways for Black talent by deepening internship, recruitment, mentorship and development programs. These efforts include reserving dedicated internship offers for HBCU students and expanding talent acquisition relationships with HBCUs beyond the traditional recruiting season.