Francesca Miller’s Collaboration with Abercrombie & Fitch ‘Radiates Joy’
Abercrombie & Fitch has launched a collaboration with Columbus artist Francesca Miller as part of its For Justice, For Joy collection.
Abercrombie launched For Justice, For Joy in February, with designs created with members of the company’s BIPOC Associate Resource Group. The resulting collection produced gender-neutral products with an emphasis on racial justice.
In December, Abercrombie reached out to Miller, after several associates saw her work Downtown during protests last summer. They loved her art and use of color and hoped they could help spread a similar message.
“There was magic in her expressive use of color and the way people smiled when seeing her work, even during such tough times,” said Corey Robinson, senior vice president of Merchandising & Design at Abercrombie. “We’re overjoyed with the results. She, and her artwork, radiate joy and we couldn’t be happier to have partnered with her to bring that same spirit to these pieces.”
The collaboration with Miller is the second capsule, and the first time the company is working with a visual artist. All proceeds from the capsule will go to The Steve Fund, a nonprofit devoted to improving the mental health and emotional well-being of young people of color.
Miller created three t-shirt designs for the capsules that honed in particularly on “the beauty and dignity and just us as human beings, outside of just our story beyond oppression and trauma,” she said.
Miller had free reign for her designs, with the only stipulation being to create based on the theme “Black joy” and what that meant to her.
She designed one tee with the banner “Beauty, Brilliance, Resilience” on the front and three women leaning on each other on the back, inspired by the performance piece of a friend.
“I really wanted to create something that spoke to us coming together as a community in this time,” she said. “With everything that happened last year, it was just like a fresh prick I think in all of our hearts. I really wanted to create something that shows that we are a community that sticks together in a rough time like this, and it’s even our joy that helps bring us together.”
Her designs also utilized color in a way to allow inclusivity for Black Indigenous People of Color, with the white tee opting at vibrant colors to represent diversity while the beige tee includes a range of skin tones from very light to very dark. Both designs incorporate serene expressions.
“Joy isn’t just jubilant and expressive. It doesn’t have to look like we’re happy all the time,” she said. “It can be that calm, the peace that we feel, taking that moment to just breathe in.”
The black tee was supposed to just use poet, singer and Columbus arts notable Caroline Bennett as a reference, however, Miller says the portrait ended up looking just like her.
She and Bennett have never met, but she’s seen her around, spreading joy. The specific image she referenced shows Bennett with her head lifted high, eyes bright, and her blue hair in full effect — the latter of which she considers a symbol of freedom and resistance from those who try to shame Black women with colored hair.
“This is a woman who, every time I hear the word joy, I think of her,” she said. “She just a very radiant being. Her joy is very contagious and infectious.”
As a brand, Abercrombie was once disdained for its approach to inclusivity and diversity. But in the last half-decade, it has found its footing with new leadership and a honing in on what Millenials and Gen Z consumers want, and has increased in popularity because of it.
It joined other companies in launching its own initiative last year for social justice and racial equity with the Abercrombie Equity Project, which includes the partnership benefiting The Steve Fund.
Miller says it’s significant for a national brand to support this moment toward social justice at this magnitude, and to want to do better.
“It means a lot to know that a company status is seeking to use their platform to amplify a very needed message,” she said, adding that what the company is trying to do feels very genuine. “To see like that they are making very intentional efforts to change, it means a lot. And I was honored to be asked to help.”
After months of not being able to talk about the project, she’s relieved to finally share. She’s still in disbelief, after only starting as a full-time artist last year and now being asked to work with a national company on something so important.
She was nervous about taking something on so much bigger than her, she said, and hoped she could do this message justice.
“We’re full of light. You know, we live in a world that wants to oppress us. But that’s not our story,” she said. “We are blissful, we are full of life.”
For more, visit abercrombie.com/shop/us/for-justice-black-history-month-collection.