Amidst the backdrop of awards season and Black History Month, H&M has announced an exciting new collaboration with legendary costume designer Ruth Carter — the mastermind behind the accoutre for films like Malcom X, Selma, Black Panther, Do The Right Thing, and many more. Nominated for multiple Academy Awards, Carter became the first African American to win the Academy Award for Best Costume Design for her work on Black Panther in 2018. Now, she’s translating her vision with a collection of clothing and accessories inspired by ‘90s streetwear, in partnership with the major retailer.
Featuring tank tops emblazoned with the word “truth”; t-shirts that say “trust your voice”; crewneck sweatshirts; and an iconic multi-colour bucket hat, among other covetable items, the collection will be available for purchase on HM.com and in select H&M stores starting February 13. With simple silhouettes, colour blocking, and a tight range of hues including red, green, white, and black, the collaboration feels athletic, urban, and youthful. Regarding the opportunity, Carter tells Refinery29, “When I thought about the collaboration, I thought about the accessibility that H&M has to a wider audience. And I thought, how many costume designers get an opportunity like this?” This statement makes sense considering H&M’s massive reach.
When it came to figuring out the look and feel of the collection, Carter, whose interest in costuming stems from her deep passion for storytelling, says, “I can't believe there are so many young people that are loving Black Dynamite and Do the Right Thing.” With this in mind, the campaign for the collection took the form of a modern-day podcast titled “And That’s The Truth, Ruth” — a clever nod to director Spike Lee’s “We Love” radio from Do The Right Thing. Hosted by Carter and Gen-Z comedian Jay Versace, their fun dialogue covers everything from the collection’s design influences to Ruth’s design legacy.
What does the costume designer hope people feel when they wear these pieces? A sense of belonging. “I'm hoping that they'll use these pieces and mix them with their Ivy Park, Adidas, and Nike. That the items will become a bigger part of their story.” Ultimately, Carter believes it’s a great time in fashion where there are no rules and you can do whatever you want. “Trust your voice. Be ruthless. This is the time to express yourself creatively.”