Denim Talks Episode 4: Studio 189’s Abrima Erwiah

Studio 189 founders Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah

Visitors to Kingpins’ Denim Days in New York will remember Studio 189’s bold prints and indigo-dyed textiles. The New York-based company, founded by fashion executive Abrima Erwiah and actress Rosario Dawson, was a regular exhibitor at the consumer-facing denim festival. 

We sat down with Erwiah at the festival last year to hear the story behind Studio 189 and to discuss the company’s sustainable mission. 

The Journey is the Destination: Studio 189’s Abrima Erwiah Talks About the Brand’s Sustainable Mission

Winner of the CFDA Lexus Fashion Initiative for Sustainability, Studio 189 uses sustainable natural fibers, including cotton from Burkina Faso and Ghana and silk from Italy, as well as recycled materials and closed-loop fabrics such as Tencel. 

The brand has a factory in Ghana and works with artisans in several African countries who produce hand-crafted textiles such as bògòlanfinii mudcloth from Mali and Burkina Faso and kente weaving, hand-painting and hand-batiking from Ghana. The indigo pieces in the collection are dyed in Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso.

Indigo conveys an added layer of meaning for the brand, Erwiah said. 

“We use a lot of indigo because it’s something that connects so many cultures,” she said. “If I have an indigo button-down shirt and it is sitting on a rack. You don’t know where that shirt came from. You could have gotten it in Japan. You could have gotten it in India. You could have gotten it in Nigeria. And that to me is so magical because it shows it’s all in your head. We’re all connected.” 

And that ethos is woven throughout the collection. The company’s Spring 2020 collection, which was on the runway last fall at New York Fashion Week, was called “Heritage.” “It’s a reflection and a recognition that so many things—from style influence to actual raw materials—have come from Africa,”  Dawson explained to Vogue. “This was a celebration, a recognition of how interconnected we’ve always been.”

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