cait +tiff

C / Studio 189

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I get excited when I see people doing interesting, beautiful things that are good for the world. Studio 189 is a relatively young fashion company that is doing just that. They make unique and modern pieces by using sustainable and ethical practices and I am eager to crowd my closet with them. Studio 189 is demonstrating how to make high fashion in a smart way. It helps that they have Rosario Dawson, a quick and talented actress with a strong eye for fashion, and Abrima Erwiah, Dawson’s childhood friend who comes to the game with an already-strong career in fashion at Bottega Venetta. These two women and their team seem to really understand the value of the work that they can do.

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In a 15 second clip, Dawson sums up the exact way I feel about fashion. In case you don’t have 15 seconds, or your internet can’t stream video (I feel you, Laura in Myanmar) this is what she says:

“The pieces that we are selling are not super expensive, but neither are they really cheap, you because the idea is that this will actually support the person that made this. You should know that this beautiful thing that you are buying recognizes the value of the person that makes it.

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I see so much value in bringing ethical fashion into the mainstream market. After learning about how companies like Tonlé and Dsenyo operate, I am convinced that it is entirely unnecessary to be evil in order to make beautiful things. I do believe that it is important to have a platform and access to a wide market to get anything done, and I think Studio 189 has that. They have figured out how to be high-fashion and relevant, while still keeping ethical practices and using sustainable resources.

“To use Fashion as an agent for Social Change, turning challenges on the ground into opportunities.”                   Studio 189 Misson Statement 

They are able to create well-paying jobs for women and are starting to provide micro loans for their workers as well. By partnering with UN Women, OAfrica, and UN International Trade Centre, they are measuring impact and making sure working conditions are safe and supportive. They also play well with others and are collaborating with a number of African designers, including Lulu, a Ugandan who studied in Tokyo, who makes these insanely beautiful kimonos with local textiles. I want all of them.

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People are noticing, too. Studio 189 has a ton of press, and a number of famous pretty friends are also pumping up the company. I like that starting an ethical fashion line is now very…fashionable. It’s so much better than the old celebrity trend of falling down outside of LA nightclubs.

So kudos to you awesome women at Studio 189, you are making something special and beautiful and kind, and I can’t wait to see what else you do.

All photos via Studio 189

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