By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,

DTLR, a Maryland-based streetwear and footwear brand, returned to several campuses in D.C., Maryland and Delaware for its “Welcome Back” HBCU Tour on Aug. 23, 25, 29 and 31. The lifestyle brand brought musical acts, photo booths, food trucks and giveaways to students at Howard University (HU), Morgan State University (MSU), Delaware State University (DSU) and Bowie State University (BSU). 

The Jordan Brand, McDonald’s, the U.S. Army and HBCU Go served as sponsors for the event. Rapper Lola Brooke headlined the concert and other artists, including BreezyLYN, Rob49, Money Jake, RunItUp Jordan, Fresco Trey, Anaya Perry and Anna Mvze, performed. 

“HBCUs came on everyone’s radar in 2020 and 2021, more so than they had been, but for us, HBCUs have been in our DNA from the beginning. We know that’s where a lot of our customers are, and a lot of them are underserved,” said Shawn Caesar, vice president of marketing for DTLR. “When it got down to it, we knew HBCUs were where we wanted to spend our marketing dollars.” 

Prior to starting the “Welcome Back” HBCU Tour, DTLR visited various historically Black, colleges and universities during Homecoming season. In 2022, the brand decided that it wanted to meet students before classes started to get them energized for the upcoming academic year. 

During DTLR’s stop at DSU, the company announced a partnership with the U.S. Army for its Partnership for Your Success (PaYS) Program. The collaboration will help veterans obtain employment with the brand. 

“We are one of 1,200 organizations that offer employment to transitioning soldiers and the first fashion retailer. Through this program, DTLR will benefit from highly-trained and motivated veterans in various roles. This partnership is a win-win for all involved,” said Tresse Kachel, senior director of marketing for DTLR. “DTLR will guarantee job interviews for quality Veteran candidates, adding incredible value to our hiring pool and supporting our community. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work with some of the best professionals our nation has to offer.” 

As part of the tour, DTLR gave away custom, HBCU-branded shirts to students on each campus. Brand Jordan provided slides and a photo booth with props, and McDonald’s designed a Chill Zone for students to relax in and snag towels, gift cards and frozen drink vouchers. 

The brand also created a vendor row for student entrepreneurs to share and promote their products. In the future, DTLR plans to expand the tour to more HBCUs around the country. 

“It has been exactly one week since DTLR came to Morgan State University. As the new chair of the campus activities board, it was such an honor to create new amazing memories for the Morgan family,” said Joi Jones, executive chair of the MSU Campus Activities Board. “It was such a wonderful experience to see all the hard work and planning become a reality. The students had such a great time engaging in all the different interactive activities and thoroughly enjoyed the concert with special guest Lola Brooks. The new and current bears had a taste of what the Morgan Culture is all about.”

Megan Sayles is a Report for America Corps member.