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Style > Fashion

MS. PUT IT ON: HBCU Trends and Fashion

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hampton U chapter.

HBCU Fashion Trends

One thing about HBCUs, we’re going to treat our campus like a New York Fashion Week runway, okay! For years, HBCU students have placed an emphasis on looking our best at ALL times, whether that’s going to the cafe, class, or to parties. And, surprisingly, the tradition of looking your best on campus dates all the way back to the end of the Civil War and the emergence of HBCUs. According to the National Geographic and Museum Curator at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Joanne Hyppolite, most HBCUs were established after the Civil War and as a result of African Americans “moving up in their education”, students realized that the way you present yourself is very important. So, began the tradition of HBCU students putting on their best before stepping out of their dorms.

But overtime, fashion trends at HBCUS have changed and it could be pretty hard to keep up with the latest fashions. Whether you’re an incoming freshman wanting to be prepared for your first year or an upperclassman just looking to update your wardobe, this is the right article for you. Let’s talk about our latest favorite HBCU trends.

TELFar’s “Shopping bags”

Now, I could not start this article without mentioning the biggest HBCU trend, the Telfar bag. Telfar is a luxury fashion brand created by Telfar Clemmons in 2005 but the popular “Shopping bag” didn’t gain popularity until 2020. After that, the iconic bag took the HBCU world by storm. You really can’t go anywhere without seeing both male and female HBCU students carrying, most of the time, the medium-sized bag filled to the brim with papers, folders, and anything else they need to be prepared for academic success. And, lucky for us, Telfar restocks their bags every single month, so don’t worry you still have a chance to get one.

Letterman jackets

Letterman jackets are a timeless fashion item. They can be dated back to the early 1900s and some of our favorite HBCU alumni even rocked them during their time in college. However, the classic piece has made a full comeback recently on HBCU campuses. Letterman jackets can be worn with anything. It can be worn with a cozy two-piece sweatsuit on your way to the cafe or you can wear it to dress down a maxi dress just to look cute for class. You can opt for a letterman jacket with your HBCU’s emblem or colors on it or one that simply fits your vibe. Whatever look you’re going for, a letterman jacket can serve as the cherry-on-top.


It doesn’t matter what your little brother’s favorite podcaster says, Nike Dunks are the most stylish and versatile shoes to hit the HBCU fashion scene. It’s another classic fashion item and it was popularized in the 90s by the skateboard community and college basketball players. But lately, the shoe style has been getting a little hate because some think the trend is played out. However, in my opinion, Nike Dunks are an HBCU fave because they’re perfect for any situation. You can dress them up for brunch with friends or slip them on to meet up with your study group at the library. From their variety of colorways to its comfortability, Dunks are the perfect shoe to add to your wardrobe.


The HBCU girls have turned what used to be a just a simple hat accessory into one of the cutest and most popular fashion trends on HBCU campuses. Beanies used to be just a little hat you’d throw on when it’s cold outside, but now the girlies are even wearing them when it’s 80 degrees outside. And so many new Black-owned brands have co-opted the trend and made it even harder to not add beanies to our wardrobe. The most popular beanie brand and possible what started the reemergence of beanies on HBCU campuses is Mea Culpa. You’ve probably seen the brand on Tiktok or worn by some of your favorite influencers and celebrities. Either way, you should take the popularity of beanies as a sign to get one… or two.

Deja Jones

Hampton U '26

Hi! My name is Deja Jones and I’m a second year political science major at Hampton University. I’m from St. Louis. I love music, fashion, and writing about music and fashion!