Travis Johnson ’24 had a fashion emergency during his first year at Harvard: blazer and khakis, but no tie.
He scrambled, reaching out to friends ahead of his internship interview, and one came through. But the sense of panic stayed with him. After joining the Harvard Undergraduate Association, the government concentrator was pleased to be part of a team that worked to provide small stipends to students needing professional clothing. The need, he discovered, was great — some 200 applicants in 2020-21. He’s now a leader of the association, and together with his co-president, LyLena Estabine ’24, this week launched the Crimson Career Closet (CCC), a brightly colored space on the 10th floor of the Smith Campus Center where students can borrow suits, dresses, and accessories for free.
“Today the cost of professional clothing is exorbitant and we can’t assume everyone can afford it,” said Johnson. “That’s exactly why this program can be so impactful.”
Estabine, a sociology concentrator, noted that the closet, a core promise of the pair’s presidency, meets an unaddressed need. “I resonate with this in several ways. Because of my financial situation, a lot of my clothes are from thrift stores. Also, this closet is size-inclusive. This suit is a size 20. So there is enough room for everyone.”
Here’s how it works: Students can visit the CCC website to preview the available options, and book an appointment where they can borrow clothes for up to two weeks. They can make minor modifications to the garments, but not dramatically alter them. Currently, the CCC has five racks of clothes, mostly donated from faculty, but Estabine and Johnson hope to expand the donor base to alumni and classmates with support from the Office of Career Services. Harvard Common Spaces donated the Smith space.