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 at Marie Claire, covering runway trends and tracking down the latest finds to buy and wear. When she’s not writing about fashion, she pens about the best places to jet-off to. Over her six years with Marie Claire, Sara has reported on the ever-evolving world of fashion— covering both established and emerging designers within the industry. Sara has held fashion positions at Lucky and SELF Magazine and was a regular contributor to Equinox’s Furthermore website, where she wrote across their style, wellness, and travel verticals. She holds a degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and currently resides in Manhattan. Follow her along at @sarajonewyork.