Long before they founded fashion brand Studio One Eighty Nine, Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah were just Lower East Side neighbors. They both believed in the idea that people of different backgrounds can create meaningful content together for good. After a profound trip to Congo, they had their idea: a fashion and social enterprise that creates jobs, utilizes organic textiles and teaches artisan skills, all while providing the bold, flowing garments that Hamptonites crave.
“Every time you make a purchase decision at any fashion company, you are setting off a chain of events since so many people are involved in making our goods from around the world,” Dawson says. “For us, it is important to therefore empower local communities to be able to take control of their own lives.”
July 3 to 8, Dawson and Erwiah, a fashion and communications executive formerly of Bottega Veneta, host their annual pop-up event at The Surf Lodge, where shoppers can find printed maxidresses, jumpsuits, accessories and more that are inspired by African culture.
“We use a lot of traditional techniques and effort to make products, so we tend to get people who appreciate craft and design,” Erwiah says of their customers. “We use a lot of prints, colors and patterns, so someone who likes a pop of color in their life. Someone who thinks about the story and the people who make their products.”
For the future, the founders are working on making their garments as sustainable as possible and increasing their locations. “Our dream is to see fashion in Ghana and all over Africa grow to be as big as the fashion industry in the U.S. and the U.K.,” Dawson says. “Globally, fashion is a $1.2 trillion industry. Imagine how much more impact that could have than aid in sub-Saharan Africa?”
Benefiting lives at every stage of the creation process, Studio One Eighty Nine achieves its founders’ goal of sharing vision and turning strangers into neighbors. The Surf Lodge, 183 Edgemere St., Montauk