Harry Rosen and Masai Ujiri team up

The brand responds to calls for retailers to diversify their shelves with a capsule collection alongside the Toronto Raptors president.

Harry Rosen Inc--Masai Ujiri and Harry Rosen Team Up for HUMANITHarry Rosen is teaming up with the Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri, as well as two Black Canadian fashion designers, in an effort to build on the retailer’s commitment to help make fashion a more equitable industry.

In collaboration with Ujiri and designer Patrick Assaraf, the luxury menswear brand has created “Humanity,” an athleisure clothing capsule. Net proceeds from the sale of the collection will go to Black Youth Helpline, an organization which provides young people with access to crisis counselling, strategies for staying in school, as well as support for families, schools and communities.

In addition to the seven-piece collection, Harry Rosen also signed Canadian fashion designer George Sully. The founder of Sully and Son, as well as the Black Designers of Canada, joins what the retailer says is a “growing roster of BIPOC designers” as it looks to diversify its shelves. Designs by Sully are set to debut in the spring of 2021.

“Events of the last year have impressed upon us that the status quo is not good enough and that we all need to do better,” said Larry Rosen, CEO of Harry Rosen. “From working with inspiring role models to opening more doors of opportunity, we are committed to making the Canadian fashion industry more equitable.”

A chorus of voices have called on the fashion retail business to do better, too. One such voice is Aurora James, a Toronto-born designer and CD at afro-centric apparel brand, Brother Vellies, who is also the founder of “The 15% Pledge.”

The commitment is aimed at getting major retailers across product categories, but also high-end fashion retailers, to commit 15% of their buying budgets and shelf-space to BIPOC-owned businesses. Recent November signatories south of the border have included retail brands like Macy’s and Sephora.

Other apparel brands, like Roots, have made recent efforts to focus on the diverse make-up of its customers in its marketing, while DTC retail brand Knix is making a more concerted effort to give BIPOC voices a platform to share their stories

The fashion industry, of course, is not alone in having a far from unblemished record when it comes to committing to diversity beyond what are often seen as performative actions. An open letter that circulated earlier this year calls for more Black professionals in leadership positions and demanding action against racism in the Canadian ad industry while a manifesto brought to light similar concerns across the PR industry.