Studio 189, a label founded by actress Rosario Dawson and fashion executive Abrima Erwiah
It’s hard enough to build a fashion brand, let alone an empire. Rare is the person who makes a mission of using fashion to build communities. Such is the case with Studio 189, a label founded by longtime friends Abrima Erwiah (formerly a marketing executive at Bottega Veneta) and Rosario Dawson (an enduring star most recently seen in Netflix’s Marvel franchise).
“The idea is to produce everything in local markets,” says Erwiah. “Particularly in Africa, particularly in Ghana.” The founders set up the company in partnership with the United Nations’ Ethical Fashion Initiative, which also works with such socially conscious brands as Edun, Marni Group Srl, and Vivienne Westwood Ltd. The mission of Studio 189 dovetails with the slogan of that UN off-shoot: “Not charity, just work.”
“It’s a social enterprise,” Erwiah says. “We think that’s much more powerful than aid.” The company, founded in 2011, dropped its first collection in 2013. The company has since thrived in its effort to allow impoverished communities to take advantage of the global economy (rather than the other way around, as is customary) by fostering an industry grounded in traditional craft.