Philly millennial brings African fashion to the mainstream

Breanna Moore thought she had it all figured out.

The University of Pennsylvania alum planned to get a job at the state department after graduating with a dual major in African American studies and International Relations. But after traveling and studying abroad twice in Ghana, Africa, her life changed forever. The 24-year-old from Sumter, S.C. works as an experience manager at Pennovation Center for Innovation by day, but she’s a fashion designer by night.

Moore founded LaBré fashion line with a mission to increase economic growth in Ghana through job creation. With this platform, she wants to give Africans and designers of African descent increased access and exposure to the international market.

Metro caught up with Moore recently to learn more about her endeavor. 

Q: What inspired you to start LaBré?

A: It’s a combination of my sister’s name, La’Vette, and mine. After studying abroad in Ghana twice, I noticed the African-inspired fashion was so beautiful and should be accessible while helping the economy in Ghana. They have cultural Fridays where they wear inspired fashion, a lot of times previously colonized countries are much more structured. Launching a year after graduating from school last summer, I became enamored with the experience and fashion. After realizing the major point of access I had to African-inspired fashion was through festivals, online stores, pop-up shops and flea markets, I was inspired to create LaBré Agency. I wanted to be able to walk into a Forever 21 or H&M and purchase a design from the continent, made in that continent. People still need to try on clothes in a physical location even though online sales are popular.

Q: Please tell us about LaBré Agency through your Fashion Made in Africa Initiative?

A: The Fashion Made in Africa Initiative aims to generate global visibility of African-inspired fashion designers, achieve the stocking of African apparel in U.S. fashion companies, and harness the fashion industry to create economic opportunities for young and talented African and diaspora designers.

LaBré Agency will achieve the stocking of made in Africa apparel and accessories in major U.S. retail companies.  I will strategically provide U.S. fashion retailers, department stores, and boutiques with a portfolio of products ranging from homeware, apparel, and accessories of LaBré’s network of African fashion designers essentially opening up the designer’s collections to all potential buyers, expanding the markets available for the company and the designers.

I will work with designers to grow their business through supply chain operations and the wholesale stocking of their inventory.  Providing supply for the rapidly growing global demand for quality African fashion products by sourcing them directly from African designers who will showcase and sell their apparel to an international customer base, I seek to increase designers’ access and exposure to the international market and increase representation of African fashions in mainstream retail stores.

Q: Do you think people are appropriating African fashion?

A: You see African prints made in China like a fake print I’ve seen in Forever 21 before. There is no such thing as African fabric, it was stolen by the Indonesian Batik style. The machines could only print on one side unlike the original on both sides with wax print. When they couldn’t sell it other places, they would stop to trade with the locals in Africa and apparently in West Africa it was very popular. All the major manufacturers are owned by the British or Chinese. The Dutch appropriated from Indonesia. It’s how you make it your own at the end of the day.

Q: What do you think about Rihanna’s new makeup line featuring 50 shades of black skin tone foundation?

A: It’s awesome. I feel like for a long time women of color could not find shades to match their varying skin complexions.

Q: Are you trying to do the same except with fashion?

A: Different designers who are normally more on the mainstream side will be providing African-inspired fashion with my help. I will be able to have a more popular fashion store at any major city in the U.S. When they go shopping, you don’t have to go to a festival or website. I’m going to make it more accessible.

Q: What is your top selling product?

A: Our maxi skirt on the website. It’s something you can’t find in local stores. Keep an eye out for our collection for the Spring in collaboration with two villages in Ghana with kente weavers. I’m hoping to pitch those designs to the U.S. retail companies. I also hope to have a flagship location in Philadelphia and across the U.S. I want to make African fashion accessible for everybody.

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