EAST GREENSBORO, NC (August 8, 2022) – North Carolina A&T students are lighting up the nation’s top retail and apparel brands this summer as interns at some of the world’s most recognizable brands.
Students in the Fashion Merchandising and Design program, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, currently complete summer internships at companies such as Winston-Salem’s leading conglomerate Hanesbrands; lifestyle retailer Urban Outfitters and its satellite companies in Pennsylvania; and New York retail giants Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s.
“The dream internship experience for most fashion students is one that places them in fields where they can be inspired by diverse cultures and creative viewpoints and immerse themselves among top national and international fashion brands” , said Elizabeth Newcomb Hopfer, Ph.D., associate. teacher in the program. “Unfortunately, our NC A&T fashion students have always struggled to secure their dream internships, in part due to long-standing discrimination in the fashion industry that has reduced opportunities for HBCU students.
“The other faculty members and I are extremely proud of every student participating in a summer internship,” Newcomb said. “We are also excited about the connections these internships will allow the program to make for future students continuing our studies.”
Amberatta Faulkner, senior, is an intern at Hanesbrands Inc., the Winston-Salem-based company and owner of brands including Hanes, Champion, Bali and The Eggs. Working in licensed sportswear for Champion, Faulkner’s task was to help the brand attract a younger female audience to college bookstores.
“Women are the biggest consumers of fashion, period, because they buy for their whole family, so we’re trying to make the bookstore merchandise (NC A&T) more geared towards the female audience,” Faulkner said. “’What can we bring?’ “What kinds of new products can we sell? We are working on these kinds of questions.
Faulkner, who is interning at Hanesbrands with fellow senior Aggie Tatyana Richardson, said she appreciates Champion’s willingness to broaden her age and cultural demographics.
“They’re very open to our opinions on how they can improve their brand and appeal to younger people,” Faulkner said. “Some brands are stuck on their consumer, but I feel like Champion is ready to go out and go to different colleges. They’re leaning into HBCUs and expanding into the HBCU audience. That’s something that some brands won’t because they’re very set in their ways of doing certain things.
In Pennsylvania, junior Mya Harris explores the history of NC A&T and works on women’s structured clothing for Urban Outfitters’ Summer Class.
“This class was really able to be in my zone as far as creating,” Harris said of the internship for the Philadelphia-based lifestyle retailer. “Creating at home is different. But since I’ve been able to get out more and explore the world and get involved in different aspects of the fashion industry, I’ve been able to push myself more creatively in what I come up with and design.
In what she described as a “triple internship,” Harris balances three ongoing tasks: she works on a retrospective of what she learns while working for the company; be available for on-site activities, such as photography; and create a collection that best represents their college.
“The basis of Summer Class is telling the story of your school,” Harris said. “To me, it’s really important to tell the A&T story and push the unknown facts. People know about ‘the biggest audience HBCU’ and ‘the biggest producer of black engineers and ag-students’ , but people don’t know, for example, the history of the Bulldog Aggie or how the name has evolved over the years.”
Samya Gilliam-Frazier, who is interning at the Free People’s FP Movement (owned by Urban Outfitters’ parent company, URBN) in Pennsylvania, had to overcome injuries from a car accident in May 2021 before she could apply for the course this year.
“For about two weeks I was bedridden,” Gilliam-Frazier said, “and then it took another two months before I could start using my left hand and arm, after physical and functional therapy. Dr. Newcomb really worked with me and made it a priority to help me get an internship.
After a successful online interview with Free People – “I was just trying to be as confident and happy as possible,” she said – Gilliam-Frazier arrived in Pennsylvania as a design intern at FP Movement to round-trip casual wear. Besides her day-to-day duties, such as vertex rankings, tech packs, and other allocation aspects, Gilliam-Frazier embarked on two ongoing projects, one of which, like Harris’s, involved designs A&T in the summer class.
“For Free People, we have to design our own bodies and our own silhouettes. So my pants are not sweatpants. I completely made the pants. It’s completely my idea, which I found so creative. I am so happy to have had the experience of doing this. Of course, they must have the A&T logo or mascot. I made a stocking, a top, a heavyweight and a sock.
In New York, Anthony Marshall, senior, called “being on set in general” the biggest highlight of his photo shoot production internship at luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue.
“I started out wanting to be a visual merchandiser,” Marshall said. “I am passionate about styling and scenography. I’m also a theater minor, so I’m passionate about the performance aspect, and videography too. I really enjoy being on set and being able to network with people in so many different roles.
Marshall said following the art director, stylist, producer and other crew members was some of the best parts of the experience.
“I was really able to really understand the ‘prior process’ of these people, to step into the roles that they have and to better understand my strengths and weaknesses, and what I need to continue to work on. to step into some of those roles in the future,” he said.
Aniya Chavis toured New York at Bloomingdale’s as a buyer intern for Bloomingdale’s ready-to-wear portfolios. Her responsibilities range from shadowing a senior shopper to starring an Instagram video for the retailer.
“One of the cosmetics buyers emailed the coordinator in charge of the internship program and said, ‘We’re launching a new skincare brand at Bloomingdale’s and we’d like the interns to come and volunteer. ‘they have the time and they want it,'” Chavis said. “So I emailed them and said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to volunteer and help you guys. “”
From the 17th floor of the Bloomingdale’s office building, Chavis and other interns starred in a montage video of “customers” looking excitedly into a shopping bag at a mysterious product, later revealed to be the retailer’s skincare range.
“Having that experience and getting the feel of how fashion directors work was really fun,” Chavis said. “Being on Instagram with my family, being able to see it and being exposed in different departments, was probably the best thing to take from the experience.”