AW Fashion: You wah 'Bresheh'?

Monday, February 12, 2018

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Brothers Davian and Randy McLaren created Bresheh, a social enterprise responsible for their line of accessories ranging from tote and duffel bags, clutches, lunch and make-up bags, to computer and tablet cases and pouches, among other things. At the moment, the two-and-a-half year-old company, growing in its offerings with each collection, is most known for its durable backpacks which can be personalised.

The brothers have recently launched a #BAGaLOVE Valentine's Day campaign. “There are so many negative things happening in Jamaica and the world. We believe that one way to fix some of these problems is to show and give more love,” said Randy. “#BAGaLOVE is therefore about sharing love — love for an intimate partner, yourself, a friend, family member, co-worker, child in State care, someone in need, a teacher, an admirer. This campaign will run beyond Valentine's Day and customers are invited to partner with us. For each sale, $250 or 5% will be donated to the Walker's Place of Safety to help with rehabilitation activities.” Be on the look out because after Valentine's, they may just decide to add some fresh designs to the Bresheh #BAGaLOVE collection!

Hailing from a small farming district called Garden Field in St Thomas, the brothers relocated to east Kingston for school. The name Bresheh, however, was a way to stay true to their rural roots taking the St Thomas word for “breadfruit” — “bresheh” and the food's first emergence in Jamaica in Bath, St Thomas.

In fact, much of their inspiration is pulled from Jamaican culture. “We pull on rural and urban traditions in putting forward products with a modern-vintage appeal,” said Randy, who emphasised the importance of versatility in their design ethos, to meet the storage needs of their clients.

Bresheh is also in ode to the dub poet of the family, Randy, whose poem Mi Love Mi Breadfruit has been a staple in his poetry performances since 2014. “We are inspired by the Jamaican culture and rural traditions. This is reflected in the material that we use, textures and combinations. Also, our products are versatile and durable. We would like to think of our products as affordable luxury. So, while they are high quality and aspirational, they are also affordable to those interested in making a statement with their accessories,” said Randy.

And their pieces are indeed statements! While some designers are inspired to rip and distress denim in the name of fashion, Davian and Randy McLaren are putting it back together. For the McLaren brothers, whose business makes environmental consciousness a priority, it has been common practice to repurpose the waste Jamaicans produce, as much as possible, to ensure that less goes to the dump.

“We had a lot of used jeans and we knew that others have jeans that they do not use anymore and would like to get rid of. As such, we started using jeans to make products to stay true to our focus on creativity and taking care of the environment.”

The McLaren brothers, whose team is compromised of individuals from the inner city, rural Jamaica and the deaf community, maintain a firm commitment to providing opportunities for individuals from marginalised communities. “We regularly donate backpacks to children who need bags for school, including children who are in State care. In 2017, we partnered with CDA and USAID to donate 400 backpacks to children who are in the Transitional Living Programme. It is also common practice for us to route a percentage of our profits to families who need help, schools or child-care facilities. We are also proud of providing opportunities for rural residents as well as individuals from the deaf community. We will be working closer with these communities as we grow and expand.”

As such, supporters of the Bresheh (a member of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association) are not just getting high-quality yet affordable craftsmanship, but for those with a desire to give back to Jamaica, an opportunity to invest in building Jamaica from the community level.

Davian, an Excelsior High School graduate and self-taught designer, did not receive any formal education in accessory making or apparel design. However, his penchant for hands-on work and desire to make a positive impact perfectly mirror his brother Randy's desire to inspire change. While Randy, who is a member of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, does not operate the machinery at all, both brothers' creativity is the driving force behind their growing market. They have developed in the industry by attending workshops and conferences.

Customers can look forward to their Valentine's season collection in which they will be introducing personalised clutches, reversible tote bags, duffel bags and backpacks.

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