PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A video making its way around social media showcases the culmination of 20 years of dedication to the fashion industry.
“Hello my name is Barbara Clarke Ruiz and this is my collection created for Kohl’s under the TEK GEAR brand,” the video’s introduction stated.
If the face and name look familiar, you may remember Barbara from her days on the runway and the hallway of a Hampton Roads high school.
“I attended I.C Norcom High School in Portsmouth and I had to have a major. I selected fashion design,” said Clarke Ruiz. “I had this wonderful mentor by the name of Lucille Wiggins and she really mentored me throughout my entire four years at Norcom, said Clarke Ruiz in a Zoom interview from her New Jersey home.”
Over 20 years, Clarke Ruiz was behind the scenes for Adidas, Nike, Venus Williams, and others. When she met with Kohl’s executives, they probably saw captivating excitement in her eyes and they heard conviction in her voice
Here’s a sample: “This jacket that I’m wearing is called the kaleidoscope print. I love having these peekaboo openings and interesting details in the back of my designs” said an ebullient Clarke Ruiz.
She signed with Kohl’s in September of last year as the designer and spokesperson for Kohl’s TEK GEAR. The BCR collection is named after her initials.
She has embraced her elevated role with the same style and grace she brought to the runway back in the 1980s.
“When I first did this collection, I didn’t even realize this was going to turn into me doing a photo shoot and me doing a press junket. I’m doing a shoot on Oct. 19 Kohl’s live. I didn’t even know all these things were coming down the pike; they were like huge surprises for me,” said Clarke Ruiz.
Her “athleisure” wear for the entire family hits select Kohl’s stores across the country on October 19.
Clarke Ruiz reflected on her decades in the fashion industry.
Regina Mobley: Would Ms. Wiggins be proud of you?
Barbara Clarke Ruiz: Yes she would be…she is she’s very proud of me…I don’t want to get weepy but she would be proud.
The BCR collection named for Portsmouth’s own Barbara Clarke Ruiz is available at Kohl’s stores in Suffolk and Virginia Beach and on the retailer’s website.