Ralph Lauren today expanded its partnership with HBCUs Morehouse College and Spelman College, 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.
The collection seeks to honor the history of both schools and widen the lens of Ralph Lauren’s storytelling — including the nature of life at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
“This collection expresses the spirited history, deep sense of community and legacy of timeless dressing at historically Black colleges and universities,” said Ralph Lauren, executive chairman and chief creative officer of Ralph Lauren Corporation. “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 alum James Jeter, director of concept design & special projects for Ralph Lauren, in collaboration with Spelman graduate Dara Douglas, director of inspirational content for Ralph Lauren, the collection marks the first time the brand has partnered with an institute of higher learning.
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.
Celebrating the sartorial traditions and history of both schools with Ralph Lauren’s signature tailoring, the collection expands the collegiate sensibility intrinsic to the brand’s identity. The white patchwork eyelet and silk wrap dresses, which anchor the Spelman collection, symbolize the highly anticipated white attire ceremony, marking students’ induction into the college. Similarly, the wool flannel blazer serves as an homage to the Morehouse blazer, a garment traditionally bestowed to students during their first days on campus.
The full collection — which includes outerwear, knits, tailored suits, dresses, footwear, accessories and more — references styles worn by Morehouse and Spelman students from the 1920s to 1950s, capturing the colleges’ deep history and honoring their contributions to American style.
Through compelling footage and dynamic digital and in-store presentations, consumers can experience the story of this collection beyond the product. Ralph Lauren’s accompanying film, “A Portrait of the American Dream,” and commemorative yearbook detail the founding and historical significance of HBCUs through the lens of Morehouse and Spelman, demonstrating 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 alongside the film on March 29, 2022, on RalphLauren.com.
Watch the trailer to the film at rlauren.co/RLxSpelman
The collection will be available to global consumers 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.