There’s a good chance that even cycling fans may not remember the name of Marshall “Major” Taylor, but this trailblazer was one of the most recognizable names in the world at the height of his success near the turn of the century. In 1899, he became the first African American to achieve the status of world champion, and even had Nike shoes marketed after him (some things never change). Now, The Root reports that Pyer Moss designer and founder, Kerby Jean-Raymond, is partnering with Hennessy to try and bring this forgotten champion back into the mainstream again.
The collaboration is a part of the ongoing, award-winning, “Wild Rabbit” campaign. Starting in 2012, the 2018 theme for the campaign is going to be based around the life story of Taylor. To do so, the brand has partnered with nonprofit cycling club organization National Brotherhood of Cyclists (NBC), founded in Taylor’s honor, as well as artist Kadir Nelson, BMX rider Nigel Sylvester, road cyclist Ayesha McGowan and rapper Nas, who has been a longtime feature in Hennessy’s marketing.
Jean-Raymond’s contribution to the campaign is going to be a limited edition, five-piece Taylor-themed capsule collection titled “MMT 140 for Hennessy V.S by Pyer Moss.” The collection retails for $150-$500, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the NBC. Different pieces include a cycling cap, graphic tee, parachute jogger pants, crewneck sweatshirt and bomber jacket.
Hennessy will also be sponsoring the NBC’s annual series of synchronized Birthday Tribute Rides across the country on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, celebrating and honoring the 140th anniversary of Taylor’s birth. Hennessy and the NBC will be giving one $25,000 “full ride” scholarship in the cyclist’s name.
For those who follow Kerby Jean-Raymond, this is far from the first time that he has decided to lean on black history and culture for his designs. The Pyer Moss Fall-Winter 2018-19 collection referenced the oft-forgotten legacy of black cowboys, while the recent Spring-Summer ’19 presentation was staged at historic African American community site Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. He is even willing to court controversy to do so, as is what happened with his Spring-Summer 2016 showing, which tackled the issue of police brutality.