Designers Jason Sole and Andre Wright teamed up in 2018 with a bold vision - to make a clear statement about the humanity of Black bodies no matter what they wear. And so the “Humanize My Hoodie” Movement was born.
It began with one powerful campaign conducted in the Hamline University criminal justice course Sole teaches. After witnessing countless Black men gunned down by police who claimed their casual attire (say, a hoodie) was probable cause to view them as a threat to peace, order, and public safety, he decided to prove otherwise.
When his business partner Andre Wright witnessed Sole bringing awareness to this pervasive prejudice among the academic community (teaching classes in a hoodie to drive the point home), he thought it would be an excellent tool to change hearts and minds - or at least spark conversations that might.
“We seek to create a world in which our fashion isn’t probable cause for us to be slain in the streets!” the Humanize My Hoodie brand website boldly proclaims.
“When I got on a hoodie, people don’t know I teach students, at a high level might I add. People don’t know I care about people. People don’t know what I mean to my family. So when I humanize myself, I’m able to liberate other people,” Jason Sole told CBS Minnesota.
It wasn’t long before their fashion line received the exposure it deserves. The men participated in 2019’s New York Fashion Week and earned praise from Hip Hop stars Common and J. Cole and even a social media shout out from award-winning musician and social justice activist John Legend.
“For [John Legend] to use his platform and do that, man, it was just emotional first, because what he stands for, his platform, going into jails and prisons, trying to end mass incarceration, he stamped me. I’m John Legend stamped!” Sole gushed.
The stunning collection is meant to turn heads and draw attention with embellishments like ammunition shells and bright colors.
“We took 55-millimeter shells and 9-millimeter shells and we adorned those to the hoodie and we had a conversation around what it means about gun violence in this country,” Wright shared about his design process. “I spent a lot of days on my table putting each bullet on each hoodie, so I had to think about that every day and I would call Jason like, ‘Hey man, I’m in tears right now because I know what this does to the human body.'”
With traveling exhibitions across 12 U.S. cities, Wright and Sole continue to spread their message that Black men should not be perceived as threatening, no matter if they choose to wear a hoodie or suit and tie. Purchase a hoodie for yourself and others you love here.