28. Studio One Eighty Nine
Studio One Eighty Nine is more than a fashion label, it is a social enterprise and collective for a selection of fashion brands, artists, musicians and photographers...
Photos (these pages) of Studio One Eighty Nine’s SS15 collection by Jason Eric Hardwick Photography.
...and it is more than a side project for a famous actress. Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah have been friends since they were children, growing up on the same New York block they reunited as adults to create Studio One Eighty Nine, a platform to help promote and curate African and African-inspired content through an ecommerce shopping site, a supporting agency and an artisan produced fashion collection called Fashion Rising Collection. Working with artisans in the Cape Coast region of Ghana the pair recently launched the Studio One Eighty Nine’s second Fashion Rising Collection, a collection in which every piece of fabric is hand-dyed by artisans in Ghana and in fact, each garment is entirely made by the artisans. Images of the development of the collection and links to watch films follow on the next pages but the duo’s own designs and collections are only part of the Studio One Eighty Nine story. The idea germinated following a trip with Eve Ensler’s V-Day movement in February, 2011, through Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda to Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the opening of the City of Joy. The trip created a desire within the pair to focus on creating opportunities for empowerment, education and employment of artisans and creatives. In 2012, One Billion Rising was launched as part of the V-Day movement, a global campaign to end violence against women, rise for justice and promote gender equality and the cause remains integral to the machinations of Studio One Eighty Nine and its many partners. Less than four years after that first trip and Studio One Eighty Nine represents, or partners with, multiple designers in addition to releasing the Fashion Rising Collection: Bottletop - a line of bags created by Cameron Saul and Oliver Wayman. In the early 2000s, Saul launched the Bottletop Foundation with his father Roger (founder of Mulberry) and created a handmade bag made from recycled bottletops in Africa that were lined with Mulberry leather in Europe. Hence the name. The Studio One Eighty Nine x Bottletop collaboration of three handpainted Enamel Line bags were crafted and finished by hand in Salvador, Brazil, using up-cycled aluminium ring pulls. Geren Ford - a premium brand of clothing and accessories with over 300 doors worldwide including Barneys New York, Harvey Nichols, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus founded by California-based Geren Lockhart. Gold Coast Trading represents founder Emeka Alams’ time in the Cape Coast in Ghana, where he was particularly moved by a visit to the region’s Elmina Slave Castle. His production is now split between the USA and West Africa and Gold Coast Trading has also collaborated directly with Eve Ensler’s
One Billion Rising. Ugandan designer Anna-Clare Lukoma aka Lulu learned her trade at the Yokohama Fashion Design College in Japan and the Tiner International School of Fashion and Beauty in Uganda. To reflect this bi-cultural schooling she initially launched NihonAfriq in 2004 within which she worked with local craftsmen and artisans before launching Lulu in 2011 and collaborating with Studio One Eighty Nine. Menzer Hajiyeva draws on the heritage of Azerbaijan in a scarf collaboration which mixes modern technology (photography, digital printing) with manual production (batik, silk painting and fabric dyeing). The scarves also incorporate Ghanaian Adinkra symbols. Shine on Sierra Leone - cocurator of Studio One Eighty Nine producer Tiffany Persons and filmmaker Rebecca Chaiklin’s trip to Sierra Leone to film separate documentaries in 2006 sparked a love for the people of the war-torn country and a special love for the weaving and woven blankets sold there. This has since grown to a selection of beautiful artisan-created scarves. Last but not least, New York-based Taiana, aka Taiana Giefer creates Merino wool pieces using an old felting technique; no loom, just raw fiber, warm water, natural soap made from olive oil and two hands. Each piece is 100% handmade by the designer and therefore 100% unique. Taiana has a history of collaborating with designers; for Calvin Klein’s Fall 2009 collection she collaborated with head designer Francisco Costa with a series of custom fabrics and she has since worked in a simialr way with Rick Owens, Helmut Lang, Maiyet, Inaisce, Fauxtale Design and once again with Calvin Klein. Like the Ethical Fashion Initiative with whom Rosario and Abrima collaborate regularly, Studio One Eighty Nine is a great shared vision for a better world, where respect, a mantra of work not charity and the empowerment of women are at its core.
This page: Friends, fun, work! Opposite (top): Abrima applying the block to the hand-dyed fabric print. Photo: ITC EFI. (Bottom left): Rosario getting (her hands) into it. Photo: Studio 189 (Bottom right) An artisan working on dyeing and batik. Photo: ITC
This page: Rosario and Abrima at work in Ghana. Opposite: Fresh, hand-dyeing and batik Photos: ITC EFI
Watch the film: Fabric is handdyed and painted in Ghana
Watch the film: Aggie the Artisan’s message from Ghana
Watch the film: Rosario and Abrima interviewed by Hot 9t Fm