The love for art and creating started at a very young age for 13-year-old Langston Howard. He designed his first collection in the first grade, taking inspiration from the late American painter, Jackson Pollock.
That piece lead to another, and another, and eventually into Langston’s very own collection of artwork that he displays on his T-shirt line, “The Top.”
“When he (Langston) decides to do something, he is relentless,” his mother, Jacqueline Howard, said. “It’s like zero to 100 overnight.”
And, according to Langston, who lives in metro Detroit, his newly created clothing brand is already on its way to“The Top.”
“I’m currently designing pieces that will appear in New York Fashion Week,” in 2023, he said.
The Top is a motivational clothing brand designed to inspire its customers of their limitless potential, according to its CEO, Langston Howard. The apparel, which consists of athletic leisurewear, along with hoodies, face masks and baseball caps, boasts original art designs by Langston, paired with inspirational quotes spoken by some of his favorite athletes. Since its launch in March, The Top has reached over 200 households via sales though its website and has already made an impact on two notable celebrity rappers: Babyface Ray and Big Sean.
“If you ask me how he does it, I have no clue,” his mother said describing Langston’s first encounter with Detroit native, Sean Anderson — aka Big Sean — at the recent Don Weekend in Detroit. She says Langston’s business acumen is quickly developing into a confident one that is best described as “fearless.”
Langston’s mentor, Shawn Wilson, echoes his mother’s sentiments while reflecting on the encounter Big Sean and Langston shared. Wilson says that on top of Langton’s confidence, his maturity level really helps him soar in rooms.
“He’s wise beyond his years” said Wilson, CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan (BGCSM). Wilson says Langston’s unique personality and professional qualities were quickly recognized when he applied to be a part of the organization’s Fashion and Merchandising Industry Club.
The fashion club, Wilson says, is a subgroup program of a larger initiative called The Industry Club that the BGCSM created to help youths dive deeper into their passions.
Inside of The Industry Club, the group currently has two additional concentrations outside of fashion: the Sports, Esports and Entertainment Industry Club and the Data, Science and Risk Management Club. Any member of the BGCSM organization who is 14 and up is welcome to apply to the program of their interest. But, Wilson says, even if you aren’t of age, there still is a possibility to get into a program, just as Langston got into the fashion industry program when he was only 13 years old.
“He’s very mature,” Wilson said. “His concepts and his designs are mature as well.”
For Langston though, aside from his mother being a board member for BGCSM, his age prevented him from being paid dollar-wise. But his compensation for his work — success and a trip to the Big Apple — was definitely worth it.
And he is following the same steps that he takes to design his retail pieces, he says.
“I’ve always been an artist,” the 13-year-old entrepreneur said. “So I brainstorm ideas for about a month … then I sketch the design.
“And then after I have the sketch completed and I have the images that I want to be on the design, I show them to a graphic designer and they create the design through their platform.”
After those steps are completed, the one-young-man operation moves the designs into manufacturing — which he does himself — just the same as how he started his business, his mom said.
“He took the money he received for his 13th birthday and invested it into his company,” she said. And according to Langston, he has made all his initial investment back, plus a profit.
In February, Langston’s New York Fashion Week pieces will be showcased on a professional runway. But until then, the young businessman says he has a new collection that he will be releasing around October and he is interested in adding a luxury brand to his line. But most importantly, Langston says, he wants to expand The Top so he can help inspire others.
“As time goes on, I would like to expand so other people can see they can get to the top, too,” he said. “I want to make it bigger and bigger until The Top gets to the top.”
Jasmin Barmore is born and raised in the city of Detroit. She covers the city’s neighborhoods and communities using her passion as her drive to give the voiceless a voice. You can reach her at [email protected] or by sending her a message on Instagram or Twitter at @bjasminmare.