Breanna Moore first traveled to Ghana in 2012 for a summer internship. Several things from that trip made a lasting impression, including the bright textiles in the clothes worn by locals and the country’s need for economic development help.
“I knew I wanted to come back and make an impact,” said Moore, 23, a native of Sumter and a 2015 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.
That wish, which only strengthened during a return trip to the West African country in 2014, has materialized into Moore’s newly launched fashion line, LaBré. The line, featuring the bold patterns that first caught Moore’s attention, focuses on employing Ghanaian designers, seamstresses and tailors, primarily women.
“That’s our target, being able to reach impoverished women who work in rural areas who haven’t a chance to complete their education,” Moore said. “Job creation is our No. 1 goal.”
The 2016 LaBré summer line, available at www.shoplabre.com, features casual wear for women and men. Moore said the early response to her collection has been encouraging, and she’s created a Kickstarter campaign to help fund an expansion into plus and kids’ sizes.
Donations of $25 or more allow contributors to choose collection items to receive.
The campaign ends Thursday. Production and shipping is slated to begin in September.
“West African fashion is hard to find,” Moore said. “People are really excited, and they’re ready for more.”
During her internship in Ghana, Moore made a close friend, Peter Paul Akanko, who was already involved in international fashion through his business, Kente Master, which markets graduation stoles made from Kente cloth, the colorful fabric hand-woven by Ghanaian artisans.
“When I told him my idea, he was ready to jump on board and help me,” Moore said.
With the help of Skype, Moore sends her designs to Akanko, who oversees the tailoring of the fabric. When finished, the clothes are sent to Moore, and Ghanaian laborers – currently a team of 10 employees – receive payment through online transfer service MoneyGram.
Moore has shown off her collection at a fashion show at Sumter’s High Hills AME church and has another show planned for Aug. 20 at the Philadelphia Zoo. She’s a one-woman band, designing, approving fabric choices, communicating with her team in Ghana and handling marketing duties while working part-time at a Philadelphia church.
Moore, who studied international relations and African studies at Penn, plans to attend graduate school. For now, though, her focus is on putting her education to work through fashion.
“I feel like there’s so much more to accomplish,” she said. “I’m very excited and motivated. I’m ready to watch it grow. This is my love and my passion, so it’s not like, ‘Oh, I’ve got to send this email.’ I actually look forward to it.”