Studio 189 celebrates 10 years of ethical fashion
In a New York fashion week plagued by rain and stifling humidity, Studio 189 brought some much needed fresh air to the runway. This year marks 10 years of the brand, founded by actress Rosario Dawson and luxury executive Abrima Erwiah. As the lights dimmed, a shift in energy filled the room. A woman in a cerulean and navy diamond caftan entered the runway with a spotlight, performing a poem on the labor required for the creation of the garments about to be presented. When she made it to the front of the two-sided runway, jubilant dancers in black t-shirts emblazoned with the word VOTE! on the back paired with colorful patterned bottoms from the brand, took the runway.
As the dancers returned backstage, the models entered, some smiling while dancing, continuing to brighten a dreary Sunday in brightly patterned pieces. One of the featured patterns (seen above on the opening speaker) is known as the “Crossroads Print,” which is a recurring diamond, symbolizing safe spaces for domestic violence victims.
To some fashion outsiders, it would seem that a fashion brand would be a strange medium for social messaging. But to the women behind Studio 189, it makes sense. “We said fashion can be a social change,” says co-founder Abrima Erwiah. And it can be. Clothing is an essential item for everyday use. When we dress ourselves, we are expressing ourselves, which makes a brand like Studio 189 exciting to watch. Not only do the clothes themselves have meaning and impact–the process by which they are made has impact.
Currently, the brand has two stores: one in Accra, Ghana and here in New York in addition to an ecommerce site. The manufacturing is done at a facility in Accra as well as in communities across Africa. This choice allows Studio 189 to maintain a sustainable ethos as the clothing is created with traditional craftsman techniques using plant-based dye Indigo, Kente weaving, and more. This ethos has received recognition in the form of the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Lexus Fashion Initiative for Sustainability award.
And at the show, this ethos carried over. Each seated guest had an Indigo cushion to sit on with a little journal covered in fabric created by the artisans of the brand sealed in corn starch-based plastic wrapping, along with a set of two buttons encouraging attendees to vote as swag. The level of intention and attention to detail was impeccable. So much so that even the accessories shown were made to be functional and utilitarian while harkening back to the heritage of the craftsmen in Nigeria and Ghana. Cheers to 10 years, and many more to come for this incredible brand!