Polo Ralph Lauren Pays Homage to the Style History of Two HBCUs

Its collaboration with Morehouse College and Spelman College just debuted.

archival photo of hbcu fashion
(Image credit: Nadine Ijewere/Polo Ralph Lauren)

This week, Polo Ralph Lauren further reexamined their interpretation of collegiate fashion with the unveiling of a limited-edition collection inspired by Morehouse College and Spelman College, two historically Black colleges in Atlanta, Georgia.

“When I was approached with the idea of a collection inspired by the heritage and traditions of the timeless dressing of historically Black colleges and universities, it became clear that part of our design sensibility has been missing,” explains founder Ralph Lauren. Of the sartorial history and traditions of both Morehouse and Spelman, he noted: “Our portrait of American style and our vision of the American Dream would be incomplete without Black experiences like these."


(Image credit: Nadine Ijewere/Polo Ralph Lauren)

The Spelman collection highlights white patchwork eyelet and silk wrap dresses, a nod to the college's all-women induction ceremony. Wool flannel blazers, meanwhile, pay homage to the freshman Morehouse uniform. The full collection includes outerwear pieces, knits, tailored suits, footwear, and accessories. All of the pieces are meant to embody the fashions worn by HBCU attendees between 1920 and 1950, with inspiration taken from archival research.


(Image credit: Nadine Ijewere/Polo Ralph Lauren)

Last year, the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation pledged $2 million in support of scholarships for students across 12 historically Black colleges and universities, including Morehouse and Spelman.

“Through clothing, the collection encourages conversations about the creative power of the Black experience and the ways in which a personal fashion aesthetic intersects with institutional values of solidarity and connection,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., President of Spelman College. 

“Historically Black colleges and universities have uniquely been centers of both intellectual discourse and cultural influence for more than 150 years. 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,” added David A. Thomas, Ph.D., President of Morehouse College.

Sara Holzman
Style Director

Sara Holzman is the Style Director for Marie Claire, where she's worked alongside the publication for eight years in various roles, ensuring the brand's fashion content continues to inform, inspire, and shape the conversation about fashion's ever-evolving landscape. With a degree from the Missouri School of Journalism, Sara is responsible for overseeing a diverse fashion content mix, from emerging and legacy designer profiles to reported features on the influence of social media on style and seasonal and micro trends across the world's fashion epicenters in New York, Milan, and Paris. Before joining Marie Claire, Sara held fashion roles at Conde Nast's Lucky Magazine and Self Magazine and was a style and travel contributor to Equinox's Furthermore website. Over her decade of experience in the fashion industry, Sara has helped guide each brand's style point of view, working alongside veteran photographers and stylists to bring editorial and celebrity photo shoots to fruition from start to finish. Sara currently lives in New York City. When she's not penning about fashion or travel, she’s at the farmer’s market, on a run, working to perfect her roasted chicken recipe, or spending time with her husband, dog, and cat. Follow her along at @sarajonewyork