As Black History Month draws to a close, we turn our attention to a new fashion line making waves in the USA: Fort Mose 1738. Designed for US audiences by Maurice Gattis, a professor of social work at Virginia Commonwealth University and a prominent LGBQT advocate, Fort Mose 1738 aims to “shine a light” on the remarkable artistry discovered during Maurice’s visit to Ghana in 2021.

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A Journey of Friendship and Partnership

Maurice’s journey to Ghana began as a vacation but evolved into a transformative experience. A chance encounter with a local taxi driver led to a friendship that blossomed into a business partnership. Inspired by the exquisite craftsmanship and vibrant textiles he encountered, Maurice embarked on a mission to bring Ghanaian artistry to a global audience.

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An Exclusive Interview with Maurice Gattis

In an exclusive interview, Maurice Gattis shares insights into the inspiration behind Fort Mose 1738 and the unique partnership that brought it to life.

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Fulfilling a Mission Through Fashion

“My experiences as a Fulbright Scholar and my background in social work have profoundly influenced my approach to fashion design,” Maurice explains. “I wanted to create a brand that not only celebrates African artistry but also educates consumers about the rich history of Fort Mose, the first free black community in America.”

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Empowering Skilled Artisans

Fort Mose 1738 is more than just a fashion brand; it’s a platform for empowering skilled artisans in Ghana. “Our collaboration with local couturiers in Ghana ensures that each garment is meticulously crafted using traditional techniques,” Maurice emphasizes. “By supporting ethical sourcing and sustainable production practices, we aim to promote economic empowerment and cultural preservation.”

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Celebrating Diversity in African Fashion

“African fashion is not one look, one style, one textile, it is diverse,” Maurice notes. “With Fort Mose 1738, it is our goal to reach people who are interested in combining contemporary Western looks with Ghana’s stunning textiles.”

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Honoring Cultural Heritage Through Design

Kente, a traditional Ghanaian textile, plays a central role in Fort Mose 1738’s designs. “Kente has played a very important role in Ghana’s history,” Maurice explains. “The fabric, as well as the bold, colorful prints abstracted from Ghana’s natural surroundings, demonstrate an authentic, local influence.”

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Prioritizing Sustainability and Ethical Sourcing

“Fort Mose 1738 exists to help bring American attention to the work of these skilled artisans,” Maurice emphasizes. “Our pieces are produced in small batches to minimize waste, and we prioritize ethical sourcing practices to support local communities.”

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Looking Ahead: The Future of Fort Mose 1738

“I’m currently working on designing the Fort Mose 1738 Spring/Summer 2025 collection,” Maurice shares. “Our goal is to continue designing versatile cotton and Kente pieces that celebrate Ghanaian heritage while offering contemporary, wearable designs for everyday life.”

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As Maurice Gattis continues to blend Ghanaian artistry with contemporary fashion, Fort Mose 1738 promises to be a beacon of inspiration for fashion enthusiasts around the world. With its commitment to celebrating cultural heritage, promoting sustainability, and empowering local communities, Fort Mose 1738 represents more than just a fashion brand—it’s a celebration of creativity, diversity, and collaboration.