Utility and Sweat: Makenzie Henton's Sports Apparel Internship at Champion

August 11, 2023
Makenzie Henton

This summer, Apparel Merchandising senior Makenzie Henton is working with Champion in licensed sports apparel. This prestigious internship—Makenzie is one of 35 applicants selected out of a pool of nearly 6,000—allows her to work with college students to provide Champion with trend insights.

While searching for internships online, Makenzie found that Hanes was hiring and remembered that Dr. Lorynn Divita, Associate Professor of Apparel Design and Merchandising, had worked at Hanes 20 years prior. “I had to apply because she had nothing but great things to say about the company,” Makenzie says.

After three interviews, Makenzie found out that she had received an offer for the internship. The first week was orientation with the intern cohort, and as of the third week, all of the C-suite executives had come in or made future appointments for the rest of the summer to speak to the cohort.

Once orientation was complete, Makenzie went “right into work” with a licensed sports apparel team. The program she works with is called EMBERs, and its goal is to gain trend insights from college students across 15 campuses that have premier partnerships with Champion. An EMBER is a current student who is active in sports and social communities on campus. These students make submissions to Champion about six times each semester on forecasted trends. Makenzie’s job is to help structure the onboarding guide and training process after reviewing the 2022-2023 program and identifying opportunities for improvement. She outlines items and explains “the format it will be run in, the operating procedures, how the analytics will be done after the program is over, and what we’re expecting from these students…It’s a very consumer-insights and trend-insights oriented project.”

Since the launch of EMBERs last year, Makenzie and her team have helped refine the program into a streamlined, reusable process. The EMBERs take pictures at assigned events such as college gamedays, and their submissions consist of mood boards and analyses of the reasons behind what students are wearing. Makenzie the EMBER Review Committee, full-time Champion employees that oversee the EMBERs during the school year, read all of the submissions for recurring trends, basing their decisions on the highest-ranking trends.

Makenzie’s Baylor courses have been invaluable to her trend forecasting work, and she says, “I have my Forecasting textbook from Dr. Divita on my desk, open, all day every day.” Champion is currently working on textile innovation, so Makenzie also refers to knowledge from Baylor’s Textiles course. She cites case studies as giving her the experience to make informed decisions, which is imperative for this real-world internship experience. “We are making real business decisions every day,” she says. “What I come up with is likely what Champion’s going to be moving forward with in the next season and year.”

On today’s upcoming sportswear trends, Makenzie emphasizes the combination of “utility and sweat.” She recently predicted athleisure as a high-ranking trend from the EMBERs’ papers, and a few days later, Worth Global Style Network released an article that confirmed this prediction by announcing a rise in utility-focused sportswear.

Another facet of Makenzie’s internship is cataloging. She has taken a conceptual role in aesthetically curating a catalog that highlights a staple Champion product for sellers and venders. She will also be travelling to South Carolina with her team for a photo shoot with some of the previous year’s EMBERs.

“I have a really diverse role,” she says. “It’s been fun and creative.”