Rosario Dawson, Abrima Erwiah
Launched in 2013 by actress Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah, Studio 189 focuses on creating one-of-a-kind pieces that meld traditional West African techniques with fashion-forward silhouettes. Every piece is made in Ghana, where the designers work closely with Ghanaian artisans whose skills have been passed down for generations. The result is a luxe collection of wearable, city-appropriate garments that are rendered from quality fabrics like cotton and silk, each possessing a handmade touch that celebrates the remarkable tradition of craftsmanship of the Ghanaian people.
Featuring unique prints, deep colors, and versatile silhouettes, traditional hand painting and hand-batiking techniques feature heavily in each collection. Speaking of their design choices to Time Out, Erwiah said “We try to create garments and products that are multi-functional, easy fit items that both a man and a woman can wear… The color palette is always inspired by the colors we see around us in Ghana and other places in Africa. For example, for SS15, we had a beautiful shade of pink inspired by the bougainvilleas of Uganda.”
Studio 189’s greater mission is social impact: through job creation, the fostering of education and skills training, and partnerships with organizations including the United Nations ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative, Dawson and Erwiah are empowering the local Ghanaian women they work with to change their own lives and successfully support themselves. Dawson and Erwiah are also passionate about mobilising those that share their values and, after meditating on the interconnected landscapes of politics and fashion, the two launched Fashion Our Future 2020, a campaign aimed at inspiring one million first-time voter registrants to participate in the 2020 US presidential election.
Since its establishment, Studio 189 has accumulated an impressive array of awards, including the Martin Luther King Jr Social Justice award from Upenn in 2015, the MOCADA Social Justice award in 2016, the Design Miami Visionary award in 2017, and the Filming On Italy Social Justice award in 2018. That same year, the brand’s founders were honored with the top prize of $80,000 in the CFDA + Lexus Fashion Initiative.
Part of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), the brand shows seasonally at New York Fashion Week since their debut in 2018, and has since gained a strong celebrity following that includes Emily Ratajkowski and Vanessa Hudgens.
- Harlem's Fashion Row's Icon 360 fund, Winner, 2020
- CFDA + Lexus Sustainable Fashion Award, Winner, 2020
- Africa-America Institute Entrepreneur Impact Award, 2018
- Filming On Italy Social Justice award, 2018
- Design Miami Visionary award, Winner, 2017
- MOCADA Social Justice award, Winner, 2016
- Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice award, Winner, 2015