Ralph Lauren is one of the most prestigious companies in the world, providing a full lifestyle brand that both men and women have trusted for all of their high-end needs.
Polo, as the label is affectionally called by millions across the world, has now decided to pay homage to an equally prominent entity by launching a new clothing collaboration alongside sibling HBCUs Morehouse College and Spelman College.
The range of apparel includes style staples that would’ve been prevalent on both campuses from the 1920s to the 1950s, including knit sweaters with Morehouse and Spelman insignia, suits, argyle socks, dresses, fedoras, outwear and accessories amongst other items. Ralph Lauren himself released a statement via the press release to explain why this particular collab carries so much cultural significance, stating, “This collection expresses the spirited history, deep sense of community and legacy of timeless dressing at historically Black colleges and universities.” The executive chairman and chief creative officer of Ralph Lauren Corporation went on to add, “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 Polo Ralph Lauren Exclusively for Morehouse and Spelman Colleges Collection comes complete with a full campaign attached, including breathtaking imagery shot by renowned Nigerian/Jamaican photographer Nadine Ijewere and a film component, titled A Portrait of the American Dream, shot at Morehouse’s Ray Charles Center for the Performing Arts that will premiere on March 28 on RalphLauren.com a day before the full collection launches online and in-store at select locations.
Although this all sounds amazing on paper, a few people took issue with the collaboration in general with claims that Polo is playing into favoritism commonly given to both Morehouse and Spelman, ignoring many of the other 107 HBCUs. Some also found problems with the clothing style itself, noting that preppy fashion was historically a form of “passing” for Black people when it came to the segregated era which Polo drew inspiration from for this collection.
Take a minute to check out what some people are saying about the Polo Ralph Lauren Exclusively for Morehouse and Spelman Colleges Collection below before heading out to cop it when the apparel drops on March 29:
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1. i dont get the outrage Ralph Lauren has always made Brown v. Board of Education clothing
2. I absolutely love the Ralph Lauren HBCU collection. Specially the men’s collection – it also gives off that early Harlem 1950s vibe when brothers stayed suited up. Nothing sexier than a well dressed man in a suit and a pair of nice shoes.
3. The same reasons I dislike Ralph Lauren’s Olympic outfits are the same reasons I’m “meh” on the hbcu collab: tired, dated visions of American sportswear rather than progressive/visionary.
4. Love what @RalphLauren did for Spelman and Morehouse, but I would really appreciate if larger companies, like Polo, would expand to other HBCUs for campaigns like this. Don’t get me wrong, I love the involvement and inclusivity. But there are so many other HBCUs, such as #NCAT, that would benefit from cool initiatives like this and it’s exhausting to keep seeing the same thing over and over again.
5. Something is a bit off—WASPY/preppy style was a self preservation tool for many generations of Black ppl. The thought of likening one’s self to whiteness would make you safe/seen. The same is seen in Gay history. Leveraging prep to “pass”/masc. That stuff goes unacknowledged imo
6. I need the Black bourgeoisie to stop pretending Ralph Lauren doesn’t do modernity in their collections. Especially the special collections. And the fact that the Black HBCU grads stewarded this one makes it….worse lmao. It’s not just the time periods the looks evoke. It’s the creative laziness. Literally nothing particularly fresh or exciting or imaginative going on
7. The Ralph Lauren HBCU line only feels like Civil Rights attire if you aren’t used to the beauty that is Ralph Lauren. The brand is classic American, and does looks outside of polo friends lol. Expand your fashion horizons, PLEASE.
8. The Ralph Lauren HBCU project is literally paying homage to early HBCU fashion and people talking about they dressed like sharecroppers. Sometimes people need to just shut the fuck up bluntly. Just ignorant.
9. Is Ralph Lauren also donating some ownership of its company to HBCU endowments? Because otherwise, these symbolic gestures while profiting off our culture is getting old.
10. What a different approach to building an intentional partnership with the HBCU community. @RalphLauren did extensive research on Morehouse and Spelman for this collection and I’m here for it. Also the $1.2 million that will benefit students at 12 HBCUs!