Rosario Dawson: ‘We’re reclaiming Africa’s story through fashion’


Rosario Dawson is using a fashion label she co-founded to change the conversation about Africa.

The Sin City star set up Studio 189, a label which produces clothing and accessories made by artisans in Ghana, in 2013 with former Bottega Veneta marketing and communication executive Abrima Erwiah. And at a panel discussion held during New York Fashion Week at Spring Studios on Saturday (09Feb19) the actress explained the aim is to change the tired narrative about Africa, which often centres on charity, and instead put the focus on its artistry.

“It’s important to be able to say ‘got and made in Africa,’” the 39-year-old actress and activist explained during The Talks: Fashion as an Agent of Social Change, moderated by William Morris Endeavor executive Bozoma Saint John, reported Page Six.

“When you look at something made in Italy, you don’t even recognise the brand, but you automatically appreciate the value, and that’s been given to you by years and years of storytelling that has existed long since before we got here.”

“When you see something made in Africa, you think charity. You think craft,” the actress continued. “And that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. But somehow that’s the story,” she said.

“We’re reclaiming that story.”

The brand, which won the CFDA + Lexus Fashion* Initiative prize in 2018 – an award which provides funding for brands focusing on sustainability – presented its first fall/winter collection during New York Fashion Week at Spring Studios on Monday. And the Daredevil star explained that just buying clothing in line with your values is an important act of social change.

“Knowing that you’re voting with your dollar that actually stands in commitment to your integrity and the things that you value, having the opportunity and access to do it… that was something that we wanted to expand,” she said.

Studio 189 sources indigo from Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali, continuing long-established textile traditions established in West Africa. The label has a store in New York and another in Ghana’s capital, Accra.