UPS is heading to New York Fashion Week.
The shipping and logistics company is making its debut in fashion this week as the official logistics partner of NYFW: The Shows, and is launching its first apparel and merchandise collection to commemorate the milestone, partnering with nonprofit In the Blk to present three emerging Black designers on Feb. 13.
The 14-piece collection drew inspiration from small- and medium-size businesses, which are the main focus for UPS’s Be Unstoppable initiative, a program designed to help business owners of smaller firms compete more effectively against larger companies. Pieces include apparel, backpacks and wireless speakers all ranging in price from $28 to $98.
UPS tapped photographer Christian Cody to shoot the collection and stylist Ugo Mozie to create the looks. The proceeds of this collection will go to In the Blk, a non-profit dedicated to uplifting emerging Black fashion brands. UPS will also donate $50,000 to support Black entrepreneurs.
“NYFW is another example of how we can come together and show up in a different way with how customers perceive us,” said Kevin Warren, chief marketing officer of UPS. “It’s not about just writing a check. This is something we’re going to lean on.”
Warren said small- and medium-size businesses, shortened to SMBs, represent the most profitable customer segment for UPS and the company’s strong performance in 2021 was driven by these smaller companies. But this segment was also most impacted by the pandemic, especially Black-owned businesses, which inspired UPS to launch an extension of Be Unstoppable called Proudly Unstoppable, an initiative supporting minority-owned businesses during the pandemic. The company raised $580,000 in grants to Black and diverse-owned businesses.
This collection furthers that cause. “I think that there is synergy to being good and moving goods,” said Warren. “We needed to update the middle model. This is a company that is very diverse.”
Prior to this partnership with NYFW: The Shows, UPS promoted the Be Unstoppable initiative with tennis star and entrepreneur Serena Williams and reggaeton artist J Balvin, who took to TikTok to elevate Latin-owned SMBs. The company also touched down at ComplexCon as the official shipping partner, handling shipping for attendees and complimentary ground shipping for VIP ticket holders.
“We found that to really change the brand relevance of UPS is to meet consumers culturally where they are,” Warren said.