Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah’s brand Studio One Eighty-Nine may have been founded in 2013, but has recently seen new wind beneath its sails.
This summer, the line won the CFDA Lexus Fashion Award for its excellence in sustainable fashion. Yesterday, at New York Fashion Week, the duo presented their first run of fall clothes; the brand had previously operated as a primarily resort collection. “It’s our Sunday best collection,” Dawson said of their newest designs.
Studio One Eighty-Nine harnesses Africa’s handicraft expertise — using indigo and batik textiles produced across the continent to create sustainable clothing with a personal, handmade touch. All elements of the brand’s production line are well-considered — down to the recycled glass beads and upcycled denim they use in the interest of conservation. Clothing is produced in Ghana.
Dawson and Erwiah hope to be at the forefront of brands with a deeper connection to their designs, and look to attract a fashion customer interested in consumption that extends beyond being simply transactional.
“It feels like good time for brands like this one,” said Erwiah, a former luxury executive who held various roles in the global marketing and communications office at Bottega Veneta. “The world is ready. It’s about understanding the supply chain, the people involved. We stand behind a lot of social causes also, stopping violence against women and rape, education initiatives, support of the development of Africa and the diaspora.”
Clothing for men, women and children included easy patchwork indigo pants, striped suiting, wrap dresses and outerwear.
Indigo was particularly prevalent across the collection — further emphasizing its global, handmade feel. “I love the fact that when you look at an indigo piece, you don’t know if it comes from Japan, Africa or India,” Erwiah said. “To us, that means the world is a lot smaller than you think it is. We are really just brothers and sisters, so we are trying to communicate that message of diversity and inclusivity.”
Designs are sold at Studio One Eighty-Nine’s two stores (one in New York City, the other in Accra, Ghana), as well as third-party stockists like Opening Ceremony and Surf Bazaar in Montauk. The label’s average price point is about $200 to $300.
“It’s about sustainability, we don’t make a lot of collections — we make what we have and do it well and make sure that when you do buy a piece, it’s not about surplus or overconsumption,” Dawson said of the brand. “It’s getting something you really love with a great story behind it that supports people. You’re voting with your dollar.”