Back in May, Ralph Lauren launched a Polo shirt design contest, where fans and artists were asked to submit an original design concept that could ultimately be chosen as the actual design for a limited-edition Polo shirt.
Now, the winner has been revealed as Illinois–based Michelle Smith, whose design – titled Just Let Me Breathe – features an illustration of her son Micah wearing a mask, with the word hope in the background. 100 per cent of the purchase price will be going to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
“The portrait is my son, and the piece represents hope, for me, in a number of ways. Hope for the safety of young people of colour, to be treated as equals in this nation. Hope for the healing of a nation, of the world, from a disease that is rapidly taking loved ones – of all ages, ethnicities, religions – way too soon,” said Smith.
Poignantly, by early June, similar mantras were also painted on cardboard signs and shouted at Black Lives Matter protests around the world as people called for justice in light of George Floyd’s murder.
“Figuratively speaking, my son struggled to breathe in a racially charged society; now there is the physical mask needed to stay safe from the virus. The title of the piece is Just Let Me Breathe. There are days he feels as if he cannot win, but there is always hope waiting to move.”
You can check out the winning design on Ralph Lauren’s website.