Le Dessein: Project with a Purpose

By Teryl Warren

Eric Coly, Founder and CEO of Le Dessein, subscribes to the notion that women everywhere have an irrevocable right to be educated.  Harnessing the power of his two passions in life – fashion and philanthropy – Coly and his team have embarked on a mission to provide the opportunity of an education to young girls from underprivileged communities around the world by featuring the girls’ art onto Le Dessein’s fashion.

Originally from Senegal, Coly previously spent the majority of his career at major firms in finance and investment banking. But after more than a decade, his soul sought something more.

“The [financial] industry didn’t fulfill me – it was more about status,” he said. “Fashion is something that, I feel in my heart, can serve a purpose,” he shared.  “Le Dessein is an opportunity to align fashion with the purpose of helping girls overseas.”

The challenges that young girls face overseas in obtaining an education are rooted in many societal norms and traditions. Particularly, in rural and farming communities, there’s a pervasive belief that girls are able to do a better job at chores than their male counterparts.  Sending girls to school in these communities is simply not a priority.

“Young girls in developing nations have not been given the attention they highly deserve in education. Yet, they have demonstrated an undeniable power to help uplift their communities out of poverty through education and the earning power it will generate.”

Coly attests that, as evidenced by his own family, it’s clear that in families where a woman has been educated, there’s a greater likelihood that her children will also be educated.

“My grandmother was the first midwife in her town in the 1930’s, and my mother went on to finish her studies in Pharmacy in France. The fact that I and my siblings are all educated professionals can be attributed to the trail my grandmother initially blazed for us.”

The Le Dessein collection features off-the-shoulder sweatshirts, dresses and more for women and menswear offerings are coming soon. In partnership with humanist Katie Meyler’s More Than Me (www.morethanme.org )– an organization located in West Point, a slum in Monrovia, Liberia- Le Dessein helps provide the opportunity of education to more than a hundred girls by contributing 15% of its proceeds to help fund the $250 per year cost of a young girl’s school tuition.

And while benefiting society at-large is a core value, Coly is careful to not sacrifice the quality and fashion of the brand whose aesthetic he describes as one of “understated style and class.”  Le Dessein is a high-end fashion brand meant to help someone look good without having to compromise the nature of garment.

“Cause garments are often cheaply made and unattractive. I wanted people to be able to help causes with pieces that still make them look good, he said.  “Le Dessein embodies elegance and a good cause and it is the intersection between the two.”

For those who may be interested in joining the Le Dessein movement, there are many ways to help. “From shopping our clothes, to donating as little as $10, to creating a chapter of More the Me on your college campus – every dollar and every effort helps,” Coly said.

“Our ultimate goal is to expand our movement to China, India, Chile, Haiti – wherever there’s a need,” he told us.  “We want people in the world’s Developing Nations to know that they matter, that they have resources behind them, and that they can have a bright future.”



Eric and the Le Dessein team are planning a runway show for their upcoming Spring line so stay tuned for announcements online via social media. For complete contact information and to shop the collection, please visit: www.ledessein.com.


For more information about More Than Me, please visit:  www.morethanme.org.

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