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PUMA recently announced a collection that celebrates the work of Black creators in the world of fashion design.
Known officially as “We Are Legends,” the new platform will work on ensuring representation in the industry by giving Black creators an opportunity to showcase their own work. Throughout the initiative, the brand will center its mission around its “three-pillar model” that’s focused on emphasizing donation, awareness and community.
While PUMA recognizes the importance of fashion by Black artists throughout the last few decades, the new “We Are Legends” platform focuses on shining a spotlight on the current Black artists that are breaking barriers in the fashion world now.
“Often when we celebrate Black culture, we look to the past,” said the Chair of the Puma B-Bold ERG, Ariel Weeks, in the company’s official press release. “However, our collective wanted to help change this narrative by empowering people to speak up in their most authentic voices now, to create their own legacy that will be legendary.”
“We Are Legends shines the light on both the legacy of this design collective and the legends within their own communities,” she added.
PUMA has already announced the first collection to be released on the “We Are Legends” platform. Known as “The Yard,” the collection honors the history of HBCUs and, more specifically, the history of Homecoming in HBCUs, an event where previous students and tutors are welcomed back into their former colleges.
Set for release on Oct. 1, “The Yard” pays homage to previous HBCU-inspired looks that have impacted American fashion.
Despite the barrier-breaking impact that Black fashion designers, such as Ann Lowe, Willi Smith and the late Virgil Abloh, have had on the industry, the fashion world still remains largely white. According to the Council of Fashion Designers, a trade association that represents more than 450 fashion creatives in the U.S., only 4% of its members are Black.
Following the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, however, many companies pledged to increase Black representation in the fashion industry. While many report that there’s little change in Black representation on the boards and design teams behind these companies, this year’s New York Fashion Week featured a record amount of Black designers who were exhibiting their work.
According to CaSandra Diggs, the president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, more than 20% of the designers who had their projects on display in the shows were Black.
With the new “We Are Legends” platform, Michelle Marshall, the director of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program at PUMA, hopes to open new doors for the future group of impactful Black fashion designers.
“The goal of We Are Legends is to not only tell stories that are authentic and highlight the beautiful aspects of Black culture,” Marshall said in an official statement. “Through this platform PUMA will aim to lead the charge in activating the next generation of Black creatives through building early awareness and providing accessibility to roles in this industry via strategic partnerships, mentorship, and education.”