OSEI-DURO was created by Maryanne Mathias, an independent designer and marketing teacher from Vancouver, Canada; and LA based costume stylist Molly Keogh as a one-time experiment of design and production in a completely unknown place: Ghana, West Africa. They both have high regard and a love for quality details, unusual and uncommon textiles, and above all clothing that makes you feel good. This underlying beliefs are what links them together.
Osei-Duro is a Twi name (Ghanaian dialect). Osei meaning noble or honourable, and Duro which comes from Oduro, which means medicine, or magic. You could then call it as they put it “honourable or noble medicine”!
Their interest in Ghana particular is in relation to the incredible availability and range of commercial wax prints as well as the diversity of the hand woven textiles which they stress “should not be underestimated“. It was the exquisite use of hand dyeing and batik techniques that blew them away . They are open to working in other African countries, but told us that they need to focus on one country at a time so they can firmly establish themselves before moving on. We agree especially as they put it that:
We are convinced that Accra is an undiscovered street fashion capital.
The project has now evolved into textile based collections that take traditional production techniques and bring them into new shape and form. They now are working with several small factories to produce the clothing, but they also work with artisans like their textile dyer Josephine who creates all of their batik work. They are now doing batik on silk which is a learning process for her and possibly for Osei-Duro as a company too but a beautiful outcome has obviously been achieved and we love it as it proves the possibilities that can be done in Ghana.
The SS12 collection is due for delivery in Feb 2012 and is definitely waiting for. The use of textiles and dyeing is so modern, fresh and exciting we simply can’t wait!
(Credits Photography SS12 collection:
Zen Sekizawa Styling: Jennifer Johnson Make-up/Hair: Kiki Benet Model: Kate Stewart )
This season they are also working with a team of 10 crocheters to hand crochet the panels that are featured in their clothing collection. In addition, they employ several seamstresses from Nima, which is a marginalized neighbourhood near their house. For them it is a definite creative cultural exchange. It is a desire for them to integrate international cottage textile techniques with contemporary design, and so why they design and produce their line using sustainable production methods which focus on and support women’s training and development such as the Dzidefo Women’s Cooperative.
“The Dzidefo Women’s Cooperative has 10 members who work out of the Ryvanz-Mia Orphanage, in Kpando, Ghana. Each member has a role, such as treasurer or fabric buyer, and each member also puts a percentage of her earnings back into the business. By working closely with the women Osei-Duro is able to teach new skills, pay fairly, and maintain good quality.”
On asking the girls if they have considered using Kente they told us that as up to now they “have not used Kente, but would definitely consider using it. However, we would need to get it custom woven so that the colours and designs would meet our aesthetic. We like to take traditional techniques from the country and employ them in new ways!”
This probably adds to their big plans, visions and dreams to set up training facilities in Ghana as a way to create employment opportunities and to also raise industry standards that will lift opportunities with other countries. They are aware of the needs and the challenges and how it is always a challenge producing in a country that is not your own. We also wished to hear more about their story and what their experience has been like. They told us that:
As westerners working in Ghana we are challenged everyday. The cultural differences are large and the meanings behind how people speak and act are sometimes very different. Though we are growing accustomed to the cultural norms here, we are still surprised to often discover that there was a miscommunication due to cultural differences. It can be very discouraging at times, but also a very deep and insightful learning opportunity. It takes time and patience to make things work, but we are learning slowly how to work the system. We are gaining many trade secrets from spending time here.
But for this collection they did feature garments made of Malian mudcloth (the Bogalon Dress and Bogalon Jacket). It is made from cotton which has been grown on small-scale farms. For Mali cotton is a very important industry one that the country relies heavily on for exporting. So pieces including their Mudcloth Tote available alongside their best-selling Leather and Bogalon Bag are even more important due to this.
Osei-Duro’s A/W 2011 collection Retail prices range from $90 for the Hand Dyed Tanks, to $460 for the Bogalon jacket. They sell online at http://www.oseiduro.com, but are also available at a variety of shops and retail bases in the US, Canada, England and Singapore.
For more information, press images, or to place an order, please visit www.oseiduro.com
Author: Jacqueline Shaw