The question of how young people today would respond to clothes of that era crossed the mind of another son of Atlanta who is known for bringing a twist and his own flair to classic Ralph Lauren looks: the rapper André 3000, who said that after the announcement of the collaboration, people began sending him images, and he instantly thought the line was “great, solid Ralph.”

“Ralph is probably one of the best storytellers, so it felt like he went to a time when Morehouse was that look,” he said in an interview from Venice Beach, Calif. “He’s one of the best people that could pull from a certain era and bring it forward. We’re in a street wear kind of era, so it was just funny to see the reaction from kids now.”

In the 2003 music video for the hit Outkast song “Hey Ya!” hallmarks of Ralph Lauren are layered throughout: jockey pants, polo boots, suspenders, high-waist plaid pants and more. “If you look at the video, you see so much homage to Ralph,” André 3000 said. “Ralph was always humming underneath what I was doing.” (Outkast was in talks with Mr. Lauren to have him as the announcer at the start of the “Hey Ya!” music video, André 3000 said, but things didn’t pan out.)

Mr. Townsend and other students at Morehouse and Spelman said they couldn’t help but wonder if a similar line would have received such wide attention if it had been created by a smaller, Black-owned brand.

Notably, André 3000’s love for a spin on classics led him to create his own ready-to-wear line, Benjamin Bixby, in 2008. Despite being a well-known celebrity heralded for his sense of style, he struggled to keep it afloat and, without investors, had to let it go. He called the experience a “multimillion-dollar lesson” but said that in today’s climate, when finding an audience is easier, he would encourage young Black designers to create.

Although some critics of the collaboration have said that the styles of the 1920s to 1950s remind them of segregation and inequality, Ms. Douglas believes there is joy to be found in telling a fuller story of the contributions of African Americans during this time.

“The strength of character that those individuals had in spite of needs to be acknowledged,” she said. “We’re celebrating the hard road that they paved for us to be where we are now.”



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