Urban Outfitters hosted five HBCU students last summer for a 10-week internship and mentorship within the company and aided in launching their latest 24-piece collection highlighting HBCUs.
Urban Outfitters’ HBCU Summer Class of 2021 consisted of Jalen Bradford, Jasmine Logan and Dacia Redmond of Clark Atlanta University (CAU), U’lia Hargrove of North Carolina A&T State University (NCAT) and Janae Claxton of Howard University.
It is not everyday that college students get a chance to work with major brands, especially HBCU students, who hold no shortage of talent but are often overlooked. This chance for many of these students, such as recent fashion design/merchandising Clark Atlanta University (CAU) graduates Dacia Redmond and Jalen Bradford, was both a dream come true and an opportunity to show that Black college students can show up in professional spaces just as they are.
“Urban is the company I dreamed to work for without me even knowing. The opportunities that were presented to me exceeded all expectations I had set for my time interning there. I was allowed to show up as myself, whatever version of the Black woman I am, and was accepted for each version I presented,” Redmond said.
“Being Black and working in a predominantly white industry, especially at a corporate job, can be daunting on the mental. When you feel as if you have to do the most to get the least or feeling like your perspective doesn’t sit right with the company, but working with Urban Outfitters, I didn’t feel that at all,” Bradford proclaimed. “For once in my Black life I felt like the things I was addressing were being heard, I was being heard and my voice and opinions mattered in a safe space curated for me…Being in an environment all about creativity really inspired me and pushed me to want to do and be better,” he continued.
The students created everything from signature varsity jackets and sweatpants, to playing cards, tote bags and t-shirts. While an exciting time, it was not always smooth sailing through the creative process.
“It definitely was hard at times and I remember going home some nights hating what I had got myself into, but the team, my peers, colleagues and just the overall feeling of knowing I was working toward something greater got me through that,” Bradford said.
The students were able to come up with uniquely inspired pieces of their own drawing on their HBCU unity, school spirit and a desire to educate the world about their HBCUs.
“I took inspiration from a lot of ‘90s HBCU apparel as well as centering what I produced around the history of CAU. The goal was for someone who had no idea about Clark Atlanta to be able to look at the shirt & tote bag and learn something new,” Redmond said.
Amongst the students was a shared sentiment that collaborations like these are bigger than them, and allow them to show the power of their community, the importance of HBCUs and the contributions of Black communities. Opportunities like this allow young Black creatives to see their long history of ability, show it off and receive their flowers for it.
“Being surrounded by such amazing students from three HBCUs reminded me of the power that my generation holds. We’re set to change the world and this collaboration is proof that we have our foot on the gas and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon,” Redmond said.
Bradford expressed how spotlighting HBCUs as an HBCU student was special to him.
“For centuries we have gone without the benefit of the seeds we’ve sewn. So when there is an opportunity to rightfully claim what’s ours and put it on a pedestal for everyone to see that it is ours and it is beautiful, all it does is shine light to something we already knew was bright,” Bradford said. “This was more than just us making a collection and selling it…This was about highlighting and uplifting us in ways that we always aren’t and for that I have the most immense gratitude to be a part of that elevation to my community,” he continued.
All collection items are available for purchase on the Urban Outfitters Website. Items range from $38-$700.
Copy edited by: N’dia Webb