In a victory lap for sustainable fashion, clothing made from cotton grown and handwoven in Burkina Faso and cut and sewn in Ghana featured on the ramp at New York Fashion Week last month. With their Spring/Summer collection, Studio 189 showcased a lesson in ethical fashion that Africa could teach the world. But how do African fashion brands overcome production challenges such as electricity shortages and scale up while staying green?
Niche local brands already have the bespoke quality international buyers are looking for. Now, a few African entrepreneurs are to find out what it takes to produce clothing that are African, sustainable and can be sold at scale internationally.
With Studio 189, luxury label veteran Abrima Erwiah and actress and activist Rosario Dawson have created an example of sustainable clothing that is both beautiful and profitable.
Studio 189 is part of a generation of African designers who have an intergenerational repository of intellectual property to draw from the continents millenary crafting techniques, says Nisha Kanabar, co-founder of Industrie Africa, a digital showroom.
“That, coupled with the fact that most designers are not yet producing in a large-scale way, just naturally lends itself to a more sustainable fashion ecosystem”, says Kanabar.