Janae Claxton, a public relations student, was one of five students chosen from HBCUs to be a part of Urban Outfitters Summer Class 2021 internship program. Claxton designed a sweatshirt, sweatpants, T-shirt and tote bag to represent Howard University. (Courtesy Photo)

By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member

Lifestyle retailer Urban Outfitters recently released its inaugural Summer Class 2021 Capsule collection, and all of the clothing was designed by five students from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). 

Three of the students, Dacia Redmond, Jasmine Logan and Jalen Bradford, came from Clark Atlanta University’s fashion design and merchandising program. U’Lia Hargrove came from North Carolina A&T State University’s fashion merchandising and design program. Janae Claxton, a public relations student, came from Howard University.  

“It was amazing and such a fulfilling experience to not be afraid to give your input, show your creativity and have people around you supporting you and pushing you,” said Claxton.

Claxton worked a retail job at her local Urban Outfitters for the past three years. Her deep connection with the brand motivated her to apply for the Urban Outfitters Summer Class 2021 program. 

She was also drawn to the internship because it sought to give greater representation to HBCU students. 

“HBCU students are more than qualified for any position, and after given these opportunities, should be given the chance to go for the job,” said Claxton. “I believe the myth that HBCU degrees are less than PWI degrees is just that, a myth, and I believe all HBCU students and alumni defy that everyday.” 

For the Urban Outfitters Summer Class 2021, the students participated in a 10-week internship and mentorship program at the retail company’s home office in Philadelphia. The cohort was a part of the entire design process from concept to production. 

Claxton took the lead in contriving the social media plan for the launch of the collection. Her experience helped her discern that she wants to manage social media for a fashion company in the future. 

The HBCU Capsule collection presents a variety of sweatshirts, sweatpants, T-shirts and tote bags. Each of the pieces from the collection showcase the interns’ school spirit and HBCU pride.

Claxton’s favorite item is the Howard University tote bag, which is inscribed with the phrase “Black is beautiful.” 

“I think it embodies the people at Howard because our Blackness is beautiful in more ways than just physically but spiritually, intellectually and so much more,” said Claxton. 

Her fellow students have told her they love the collection and that they appreciate Urban Outfitters highlighting Howard University. 

Throughout her involvement in the Urban Outfitters Summer Class 2021, Claxton felt as though her voice was heard in every space. She learned how to work in a fast-paced environment and how to better reach a compromise. 

Claxton also said this internship experience raised her expectations for future jobs. 

“As a creative, I really impressed myself, and I feel so proud to be able to have made this collection,” said Claxton. “Overall, I feel a sense of empowerment, and I also feel very ready and prepared for my future.”

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