Inclusion & Diversity

Tommy Hilfiger and Harlem's Fashion Row Announce Clarence Ruth as Winner of New Legacy Challenge

Tommy Hilfiger is pleased to announce the winner of the New Legacy Challenge, a design competition developed through a partnership between Tommy Hilfiger’s People’s Place Program and Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR). The winner, Clarence Ruth, was announced by Mr. Tommy Hilfiger during the New Legacy Challenge finale showcase held at The Roxy Hotel in New York City on March 10, 2022. He will receive a grant for US $20,000 and the opportunity to co-design a capsule collection alongside the Tommy Hilfiger design team.

Clarence was a finalist alongside designers Megan Smith and Johnathan Hayden, where they were each paired with a Tommy Hilfiger mentor and asked to recreate six iconic prep styles for their final collections. During the final showcase event, the three designers presented their collections at The Times Square EDITION hotel. Megan, Johnathan and Clarence presented their inspiration, concepts and collections to a jury panel consisting of Mr. Tommy Hilfiger, GRAMMY-winning, Golden Globe and Emmy nominated performer Anthony Ramos, and Tommy Hilfiger and HFR executives.

“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.”

Clarence’s label, Cotte D’Armes, 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.

“It has been amazing to watch Megan, Johnathan and Clarence’s journey with the New Legacy Challenge,” said Tommy Hilfiger, Principal Designer, Tommy Hilfiger Global. “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.”

The New Legacy Challenge was created to support emerging Black talent on a global scale. The challenge highlights the history and contributions of Black communities in fashion while also celebrating the voices of the new generation of Black designers. In 2021, applications from 12 contestants were shortlisted and the designers were invited to present their work to a jury through a virtual showcase.

The finale event also included the screening of the New Legacy Challenge docuseries that was directed by award-winning filmmaker Luchina Fisher. The documentary, which gives the audience an inside look at the challenge, will be released on Tommy Hilfiger channels globally in April 2022.

Further aligning with the mission of the People’s Place Program to advance the representation of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) within the fashion and creative industries, a diverse team of creatives worked with the finalists both in front of and behind the camera to bring their unique designs to life.

The team included:

  • Photographer: Justin French (@frenchgold)
  • Styling: Randy Cousin (@cousinrandy)
  • Hair stylist: Jonathan De Francesco (@jondefranc)
  • Models: Elaine Palacios (@elainelorelin) and Baba Diop (@quaintbaba)

“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.”

“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.

The People’s Place Program was launched in July 2020, drawing inspiration from Tommy Hilfiger’s very first store of the same name, which he opened in 1969 in his hometown of Elmira, NY. The program amplifies the company’s efforts and dedication of resources to increasing opportunities and visibility for underrepresented communities within the global fashion and apparel industries. The platform acts on these commitments through three pillars — Partnerships & Representation, Career Support & Industry Access, and Industry Leadership — with the objective of achieving meaningful, long-lasting change. For more information about Tommy Hilfiger’s social and environmental sustainability journey, click here.