“Dope and Exquisite” is how Daba Kora first explained to me what his Penn State, dorm-born fashion line, Purple Planes, was all about.
I got the chance to meet and talk to Kora about his line before last night’s launch of the new 2013 winter line at Chrome Bar and Hookah Lounge. I sat and jotted notes as we talked about how the fashion and entertainment team got together, how the Chrome event came to be, and how Purple Planes’ fashion and entertainment team was born. Judging by the outcome of last night’s launch, I think it would be wise to keep an eye on this team of passionate entrepreneurs.
Kora’s team consists of CEO and president John Lewis, PR chair Rocky Collins, graphic designer Sabir Hall, strategist Kyle Paolucci, and street team Rafeek Woodson and Braheim Queen. Woodson is also part of the entertainment aspect of Purple Planes, and is currently an unsigned rapper. The group is Philadelphia-born with the exception of Paolucci and Collins, and the city is responsible for a sizable chunk of the sales and for a lot of the inspiration of the line itself.
Kora originally got into fashion freshman year as a hobby. Growing up, Kora had a passion for clothes and shopping, and looked forward to showing off his good grades to his father because he knew his efforts would pay off in polos. While in the dorms at Penn State, he got the itch to start up his own fashion venture. Two attempts and $400 worth of printing materials later, he found his niche.
He gave his first batches out for free to close friends and neighbors, and saw that a pace had started. That’s when best friend and current CEO, John Lewis from Millersville, recognized the following the line had in the works, teamed up and recruited a street team. Kora put together the rest of the team from there, and they have been counting the online sales and promoting Purple Planes since.
When I asked where the name of the brand came from, Kora smiles and says, “it’s not what everyone thinks.”
Purple has always been his favorite color ever since he can remember and he likes that it signifies royalty. Then there are the planes, which he couldn’t stress enough terrified him when he was younger. Both of Kora’s parents are from West Africa, and with a fear of flying on top of the many hours it takes to get there, 7-year-old Kora cried practically the entire time. When they finally landed, he was overcome with a realization: he had just conquered his greatest fear. Since then Kora says nothing can ever scare him like that. Purple Planes is all about looking like royalty and knowing the sky is the limit, and last night made that apparent.
When I walked in about an hour into the event, the place was dangerously close to Chrome’s 80-person capacity and supporters were eager to take pictures with Kora in front of the logo-printed backdrop. The group landed the venue at Chrome through another Penn State start-up Dream PR, the brain child of alumna Alexis Morgan, who represents Purple Planes. Part owner of Chrome, Zahi “Zee” Elhaj, was happy to host the 2013 Winter collection launch.
On the table were a sample of the new line which includes jackets, windbreakers, sweatshirts, short and long sleeve t-shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts. These new items and more can be viewed on their newly redesigned website which launched last night.
When I asked Kora what people should expect for the future of Purple Planes, his response was immediate.
“Greatness. People should just expect greatness. It’s very different. Everything from the fall collection is different: the website, the designs. I want people to see the growth and the direction. Every piece has a story behind it.”
Purpe Planes will be on tour soon in Reading, Pittsburgh, Michigan, and West Virginia—and check out their website for more dates.