Behind The Collaboration: RANDOLPH X W'MENSWEAR


Inspired by trailblazing women of the Mercury 13 program who pioneered female advancement in spaceflight, the female-led team behind the RANDOLPH X W'MENSWEAR COLLABORATION explored the various powerful meaning of femininity.

Joining forces behind the RANDOLPH X W'MENSWEAR C-9 CAPSULE COLLECTION are two powerhouses of the fashion world: Lauren Yates, the visionary Founder and Creative Director of W'MENSWEAR, and Sunni Fleming, the influential Chief Brand Officer at RANDOLPH. Their unique insights and shared passion for women's stories promise a compelling dialogue ahead. Dive into their conversation below and learn more about the inspirations and aspirations that birthed this stellar collection.


Paving the way to space.

W'MENSWEAR Founder & Creative Director Lauren Yates holding a sign, explaining what femininity means to her.


What inspired you to create this collection?

I’ve always been inspired by the stories of women throughout history who have persevered to break boundaries. A few years ago, I came across an old Sesame Street clip featuring Sally Ride, the first American woman to go to space. It had me wondering, “how is it that women had to wait 20 years to follow their male counterparts to space?”

This question kept my attention hostage for years, and when Randolph Engineering approached me for a collaboration, the opportunity to explore this idea further set fireworks off in my mind. Our research led us to the ‘Mercury 13’ program, an unofficial experiment of Dr William Randolph Lovelace, the chairman of the NASA Special Advisory Committee of Life Science. He was in charge of selecting NASA astronauts, and wanted to see if women were viable candidates for spaceflight.

The women of the program gave their all, to show the world that they were just as capable to go to space as men. More importantly, they did so while juggling their roles as mothers and wives of 1960s America. I would argue that their feminine qualities were what enabled them to excel in some of the many physical and psychological tests that they endured in the program.

It was clear that the Mercury 13 program was too avant-garde for their time, when NASA rejected the initiative. However, these determined women took the case for equal opportunities in aviation to Congress, which eventually paved the way for Sally Ride decades later. The Mercury 13 program mapped out a model of femininity that intersected with the political ideologies of Cold War America, and set forth a domino effect that women can appreciate today.

Tell us about what inspires you and how you inject the inspiration into what you create today?

I am a hoarder. My favourite pastime is to go to flea markets and car boot sales to scour through what others have discarded. You never know what will catch your eye, and what questions that object will conjure from the depths of your subconscious. For the past decade, I’ve been interested in the woman’s experience and the many representations of femininity in our culture. It’s a selfish process that my creative work generously allows me to explore.

Randolph Chief Brand Officer Director Sunni Fleming holding a sign, explaining what femininity means to her.


What inspired you to work with W'menswear and why?

I was inspired to work with W’menswear because of their brand values and because of Lauren Yates, who is a dynamic creative force and entrepreneur. Any brand that is using their platform to share the history of the woman’s experience is going to catch my attention and do it in an authentic and responsible way, is incredibly inspiring.

What is it about the first American woman to go into space?

As we dug deeper into the research through partnering with Lauren, it became less about the 40th anniversary of Sally Ride going into space, specifically, although she was a pioneer, but moreover about the women who came before her to pave the way like the Mercury 13 program. I have chills just thinking about their courage and endurance. They wanted to change the world and they did. We are honored to share their story through this collection.

Young woman holding a sign explaining what femininity means to her Young woman holding a sign explaining what femininity means to her
Young woman holding a sign explaining what femininity means to her Young woman holding a sign explaining what femininity means to her
A member of the mercury 13 taking one of the many enduring experiments.

By aligning with the spirit of these trailblazing women, our collaboration endeavors to echo their legacy of courage and innovation, aiming to empower and amplify the voices of women in unchartered domains, redefining boundaries and nurturing the pioneering spirit that continues to shape our collective journey.

1 comment

I’ve been a lifelong follower of space programs but had never heard of this NASA one (no surprise, right?). I’m completely captivated and intrigued by the program and the products you’ve created.
Well-played, Randolph!

Daniel Clague October 19, 2023

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