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‘This is Just Performative Pimpin’ for Profit’: Social Media Drags Retail Company Urban Outfitters Over Its ‘HBCU’-Inspired Clothing Collection

Urban Outfitters recently unveiled its Historically Black College and University-inspired capsule collection by Alife X Champion. While the brand’s intentions might’ve been pure, folks on Twitter — specifically Black people — were expressing anything but pride. 

Good Morning America” reported that the collection was in partnership with the Collegiate Licensing Company. The line that featured the names of prestigious schools such as Howard and Hampton University printed on grey sweatshirts was inspired by the cultural vibes of HBCU homecomings and street wear. According to Alife’s official Instagram page, the company would also be donating 5 percent of all of the February profits to the United Negro College Fund and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Lifestyle-driven company Alife partnered with Champion and Urban Outfitters on a capsule HBCU apparel collection. (Photo: Urban Outfitters)

However, critics disapproved of the line’s design and presentation, particularly its $89 price tag and low donation percentage. “Urban Outfitters got a HBCU clothing line but not giving the money to student students or the colleges? & charging $90 for it as well?” one Twitter user expressed. They added, “Lol I’ll take the bookstore $40-$60 hoodies respectfully.”

Another person commented, “Issa HARD NO for me. @UrbanOutfitters If you want to ‘celebrate’ HBCUs you should allow black/HBCU grad-owned merch businesses hold space in your stores (online & brick &mortar) at a steep discount. Otherwise this is just performative pimpin’ for profit.”

“You could just donate $89 to your HBCU instead of buying those basic and insulting @UrbanOutfitters and @ALIFENEWYORK Hoodies,” a third person suggested. “Smh and the AUDACITY to not even include the 1st HBCU @CheyneyUniv.”

“What’s more upsetting about the Urban Outfitters HBCU Collection is it was designed by a team of HBCU grads smh,” a  fourth wrote. 

And yes, despite the backlash the clothing line has received, the team was comprised of HBCU graduates, including director Amandla Baraka, photographer Michael Grant, stylist Pamela Shepard Hill, and creative director Treis Hill.

“I am thrilled that this collection, which celebrates all of the culture, community, and connectivity which an HBCU experience brings, is being showcased by Urban Outfitters and Champion,” Hill said in a statement obtained by “GMA.”

In addition to the Alfie X Champion HBCU Capsule Collection, Urban Outfitters also announced its new initiative, “UO Summer Class ’21.” Under this program, five students from HBCUs across the country would be invited to participate in an extension of the company’s 10-week paid internship program. They would receive one-on-one mentoring with leaders within the Urban Outfitters workforce throughout the summer. The program is scheduled to launch sometime in the spring.

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