Photo: LaBré Fall Winter 16
In February 2016, the unemployment rate for black Americans ages 16-24 was 14.5%. According to the World Bank’s "The Landscape of Jobs in Ghana" 2016 report, 48% of Ghanaians between the ages of 15-24 do not have jobs. Youth 24 and under make up 57% of the Ghanaian population. As unemployment and economic insecurity affects African and African descended youth disproportionately in the global economy, youth entrepreneurship and collaboration throughout the diaspora is a viable solution to creating new opportunities for self-sufficiency and economic mobility. After graduating from an ivy league university in 2015, I experienced what many recent graduates experience — unemployment. This led me to turn my passion into my hustle.
As an undergraduate at University of Pennsylvania, I was blessed with the opportunity to study abroad twice in Ghana. This was the first time that anyone in my family, since we were brought to the USA as slaves, had the chance to return to our ancestral land. While in Ghana, I was exposed to the vibrant and stunning Ankara fabrics and traditional Kente cloth. I instantly fell in love with the fashion there and its potential to grow beyond the shores of West Africa and take root and blossom around the globe. I was also intrigued by the prospective economic impact that fashion could contribute to the households of Ghanaian artisans. This led me to create an African-inspired fashion line, LaBré.
LaBré launched in July 2016 with the mission to increase economic growth in Ghana through job creation and primarily employing women, a population who is often the most disenfranchised. All LaBré items are handmade in Ghana by Ghanaian seamstresses and tailors. After raising a little under $11,000 through Kickstarter to employ more Ghanaian artisans with the company, LaBré has now grown into a full fashion brand that is committed to providing African artisans and their products with increased access and exposure to the international market through our Fashion Made in Africa Initiative and the launch of LaBré Bazaar.
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. boutiques and department stores, and harness the fashion industry to create economic opportunities for young and talented African designers. LaBré Bazaar is an online platform through which African fashion designers and artisans can showcase and sell their apparel to a global audience and customer base.
The global fashion industry is $1.3 trillion with sub-Saharan Africa’s apparel and footwear market valued at $31 billion. In Africa, the entire textile/clothing market accounts for the second largest number of jobs in developing countries after agriculture. Africa is not fully integrated into the global fashion economy which is reflective of a larger system of globalization which often leaves the continent on the periphery of economic prosperity. The common narrative is the extraction of wealth and resources from Africa. Through LaBré Bazaar, we are investing into African economies by providing supply for the rapidly growing global demand for constantly rejuvenated quality African fashion products by sourcing them directly from African designers. We desire to have “Fashion Made in Africa” become a global norm and to build a global diasporic community connecting people through African inspired fashion, art, and culture.
As African Americans, many of us desire to reconnect with our home of origin in meaningful ways. One of these meaningful ways is through forging partnerships with entrepreneurs on the continent who share our same passion and leveraging our advantages as American citizens to benefit us both. When you wear items from LaBré Bazaar, you aren’t just wearing beautiful clothes, you are showcasing your resistance. You’re showing that you are critical of where you invest your money, from who and where you buy, and in what you wear. LaBré Bazaar is committed to promoting heritage and traditional fabrics through modern design by producing compelling fashion forward aesthetic.
Breanna Moore is a 2015 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with majors in International Relations and African Studies. She was born and raised in Sumter, South Carolina and currently resides in Philadelphia, PA. Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or IG/Twitter @mooreofbre
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