By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A St. Paul man and his business partner are taking their blend of fashion and activism to the most prestigious stage in the world.

Jason Sole and Andre Wright will introduce Humanize My Hoodie to the fashion world during New York Fashion Week. The goal is to change the perception of men of color, especially when they wear a hoodie.

“Humanize My Hoodie’s a statement, it’s a movement,” Sole said.

It’s the marriage of a fashion brand and a social justice movement.

“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,” Sole said.

Sole, a professor at Hamline University and a former president of the Minneapolis NAACP, has been on the front lines of social justice. He and Wright hope to educate others about the threat perceptions of Black men by using fashion.

Jason Sole and Andre Wright (credit: Humanize My Hoodie)

“We got a conversation that we having, and we using fashion as the vehicle to be able to have that conversation and really just change the hearts and minds of people across the world,” said Wright, a fashion designer and longtime friend of Sole’s.

Both were overjoyed when 10-time Grammy award winner John Legend showcased Humanize My Hoodie on social media.

“For him 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 [laughs]!” Sole said.

The men gave us a sneak peek of what they hope will create a conversation.

“We coming, man. We not coming to play, we coming to really show how fashion can actually change people’s minds, change their emotion,” Sole said. “Is it powerful to stop an officer from pulling that trigger? I don’t know, but I’m trying to get us there. I’m hoping these three words can actually save a life.”

Sole actually wore his hoodie while teaching students at Hamline University to spark awareness and serious conversations about race.

He and Wright will leave next week for New York City in the hopes of making a name for themselves and putting the Twin Cities on the map for blending activism and fashion.

Reg Chapman