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Fashion forward: Looking at the ‘drip’ on Howard University athletes

Howard University athletes use fashion as a form of expression and individuality off the court and field.

Junior basketball forward Amirah Allen (top left), junior track and field sprinter Tiffani Rae Pittman (top right), senior track and field hurdles hurdler Darian Clyburn (bottom left), junior basketball guard Bryce Harris (bottom right). Photos courtesy of Robert Washington, April Maupin, Darian Clyburn, and Bryce Harris.

The intersection between fashion and sports is now more visible than ever before. At Howard University, in addition to Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) titles and dominant performances, athletes are flaunting their striking wardrobes on the Mecca’s grounds.

Black players set the trend for fashion in the professional sports world, so it’s no surprise to see this continued at the peak of historically black colleges. Amirah Allen, Bryce Harris, Darian Clyburn and Tiffani Rae Pittman are just a few that display the variety and extravagance of Howard’s athletic attire.

Allen has said her personal style often aligns with her daily mood. “For me, it’s waking up every morning asking myself who I want to be today,” Allen said. 

“If I have an athlete-centered day, comfort is probably more the priority. So I’m probably throwing on sweatpants and a hoodie,” she said. “I established this thing called ‘cute bummy,’ so I’m making sure that even though I’m looking like an athlete, at least my clothes are matching.”

But the junior forward says she always keeps it fresh by varying her choices. “I make sure that I keep myself balanced between my athleticism and my humanism as a college student,” Allen said.

Junior track and field sprinter Pittman expressed similar remarks, saying her style illustrates her personality.

“My style allows me to showcase my individualism,” Pittman said. “For instance, I love a statement piece or an aspect of clothing that’s not as traditional. It allows me to not look like everyone else and appreciate my differences. Especially in a time where no matter where you’re from, the majority of individuals dress alike or have a similar style.”

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This sense of individuality is often difficult for male athletes who are ridiculed for their more eccentric fashion choices. This plays into the unfortunate trend of being reduced to just their athletic product. Senior track and field hurdler Clyburn credits Hall of Fame forward Dennis Rodman for paving the way for athletes to self-express through their attire.

“He was himself, and he didn’t allow the NBA to define him as just a player,” Clyburn said. “He was courageous and bold, doing things like wearing makeup and crop tops. Now I’m not doing anything to that degree, but it kind of desensitized everyone before I come. It makes what I’m trying to do much more acceptable because he took it to such a high level.”

Junior guard Harris said he establishes his individuality, not replicating a specific athlete.

“I don’t particularly model myself after any athletes,” Harris said. “I’m pretty much just different.”

He takes a simple yet varied approach to his style. “I like to correlate all of my favorite clothing and kind of mix them to diversify my outfits,” Harris said.

These athletes represent Howard’s athletic ascension toward and away from sports. The complexity behind their garment choices emphasizes their individuality as more than just athletes.

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Copy edited by Alana Matthew 

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