The Polo Fashion School was established in 2004 to provide highly motivated, gifted students exposure to the world of fashion in the hopes that some would pursue career opportunities in the industry. Designed as an after-school course for inner-city teenagers, it allowed participants to explore and learn about this creative industry directly from mentors within Ralph Lauren Corporation.
Past students have designed the Kiss Bag, a tote bag that reflected the values of the Hetrick-Martin Institute’s (HMI) Harvey Milk High School, an organization dedicated to serving the needs of the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community. The tote bag was available at Rugby.com and in New York City at the men’s and women’s Bleecker Street Ralph Lauren stores, as well as at the University Place Rugby store. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the Kiss Bag was donated to HMI. In addition to the tote bag, 10 students worked with the Ralph Lauren Collection team to design four runway dresses that were produced and donated to HMI.
Five groups from four organizations have participated in Polo Fashion School: East Harlem School at Exodus House (2004), Team Revolution (2005 and 2006), Harlem Children’s Zone (2007) and the HMI (2008).