Last Thursday at the Roxy Hotel in New York City, legendary designer Tommy Hilfiger announced the Clarence Ruth as the winner of the New Legacy Challenge. The design competition was created through a partnership between Tommy Hilfiger’s People’s Place Program and Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR).
Created to support emerging Black talent across the globe, the New Legacy Challenge highlights the history and contributions of Black communities in fashion while also celebrating the voices of a new generation of Black designers. 12 contestants were chosen and the designers were invited to present their work to a jury through a virtual showcase and the final 3 designers—Megan Smith, Johnathan Hayden and Clarence Ruth— were each given a mentor to accompany them through the competition. The finalists each showcased six reconstructed iconic prep styles for their final collections they were asked to create.
“It’s always a great honor for us to partner with global leaders in the fashion world who share the same vision of rising above pipeline issues of diversity and inclusion in the industry by investing our time, energy, and resources in the next generation of Black fashion icons,” said Brandice Daniel, Founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row.
“It has been amazing to watch Megan, Johnathan and Clarence’s journey with the New Legacy Challenge,” said Tommy Hilfiger. “They showed outstanding creativity and vision with their collections and I’m so excited to see their talent shape the future of our industry. Congratulations to Clarence on winning the challenge! Our partnership with Harlem’s Fashion Row is rooted in our shared commitment to champion diverse talent and tonight marked a meaningful milestone for us.”
In addition to winning the New Legacy Challenge, Ruth was received a grant for $20,000 and the opportunity to co-design a capsule collection alongside the Tommy Hilfiger design team.
“I am honored to be named the winner of the New Legacy Challenge,” said Clarence Ruth. “This opportunity has brought me such creative freedom while learning and growing from Urs Graber, my Tommy Hilfiger mentor. I’m excited to move forward and take everything I’ve experienced and integrate it into my design process, as well as offer my support to Black designers coming after me.”
The People’s Place program, launched in July 2020, draws inspiration from Tommy Hilfiger’s very first store of the same name, which he opened in 1969 in his hometown of Elmira, NY. The platform acts on these commitments through three pillars—partnerships and representation, career support and industry access, and industry leadership—with the objective of achieving meaningful, long-lasting change.
“We are rearticulating the nature of product collaborations in fashion through the People’s Place Program,” said Randy Cousin, SVP Product Concepts and People’s Place Program, Tommy Hilfiger. “Collaborative programs like the New Legacy Challenge are centered around access, to make way for more resources, mentorship and opportunities that will amplify the voices of BIPOC talent. We truly believe that partnerships like these could serve as a valuable blueprint for our industry.”
Be sure to check out Clarence’s clothing line Cotte D’Armes, it explores denim from a fresh vantage point with an all denim-based collection of bottoms, tops and outerwear that fuse military with a hint of streetwear and biker chic. Take a peak below: