by Stephen Garner

Ralph Lauren has unveiled the winner of its “Polo Project: Design for Good” polo shirt design contest it launched back in early May to benefit COVID-19 relief funds.

This was the brand’s first-ever Polo shirt design contest, and a chance for a fan’s unique vision to become the next iconic Polo print. The brand said that it was both a way to engage with the Ralph Lauren community in a positive and meaningful way while everyone was in lockdown, and to inspire creativity and raise money for those in need.

Now that the contest has now ended, Ralph Lauren has named Michelle Smith as the winner. Smith is a local Illinois artist whose son is her muse. She submitted a design called “Just Let Me Breathe.”

In a serendipitous way, before BLM spread across the world, she created the drawing that symbolizes hope for the healing of the world from COVID-19, which does not discriminate, and also the hope for the safety of young people of color in this country. 

Launching online tomorrow, 2,500 of Smith’s shirts will be sold, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the COVID Solidarity Response for WHO.  Additionally, to honor the shirt’s message and as part of our pledge to address systemic racism and racial injustice, the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation will make a donation to UNCF (United Negro College Fund).

This shirt will be sold on the app and on ralphlauren.com in both the U.S. and the UK beginning July 8th.