A Designer Rocks the Fashion World While Fighting Malaria

July 23, 2016

Breaking into the hyper-competitive fashion world isn’t easy, but Ghanaian fashion designer Papa Oppong is doing just that.

Among young designers, Oppong, 24, stands apart for a couple of reasons. He has a unique aesthetic inspired by pop culture and the vibrant colors of a Ghanaian street market. And he wants to save kids from malaria.

Thanks to the DC Fashion Foundation, Oppong pursues both of his passions. The foundation brings artists to Washington for a year-long internship program run by the nonprofit Cultural Vistas.

Oppong arrived in 2015, after graduating from Ghana’s Radford University with a degree in fashion design. Through the foundation, he is working on a charity project — “One Garment, One Child” — to prevent the transmission of malaria in Ghana and, eventually, throughout Africa. Oppong is designing a line of children’s wear with a special fabric that repels disease-bearing mosquitoes.

The project is dear to his heart, he says. A malaria survivor himself, Oppong plans to create jobs in Ghana by hiring local street vendors to dye the fabric, keeping most aspects of production in the country.