Amsterdam-based fashion brand Scotch & Soda announces the launch of 100 limited-edition raffia “Born to Love” bags in collaboration with Studio 189, a fashion lifestyle brand and social enterprise co-founded in 2013 by actress Rosario Dawson and luxury executive Abrima Erwiah. Based in New York City and Accra, Studio 189 is a platform that helps to promote and curate African and African-inspired fashion by supporting community-led projects, primarily in West Africa. The Scotch & Soda bag is designed and developed by Studio189 in the product development center in Accra and handcrafted in Bolgatanga by a community of weavers led by ASIGE (Advocacy for Social Inclusion and Girls Education), a non-governmental organization focused on the empowerment of women through work and education.

Studio 189’s mission is to use fashion as an agent for social change, aiming to create well-designed products as sustainably as possible, whilst focusing on job creation, education, and training for women in particular. The brand collaborates with various communities across Ghana that specialize in traditional artisanal techniques that are open to upskilling and to continuously improving their work.

Scotch & Soda x Studio 189 – Born To Love Raffia – Courtesy of Studio 189 – photo by Daniel Kons

Launched as part of the latest Scotch & Soda ‘Born To Love’ capsule collection for Summer 2022, the bag joyfully celebrates unity and togetherness, as shown by the word ‘LOVE’ woven into the design across the front.

The bag design is rooted in the concept of love and is made with love by women working together in community using materials and colors found in nature. The color palette is inspired by the flowers, plants and herbs in Ghana. Created using traditional basket weaving techniques unique to the upper East area of Bolgatanga, the bags were woven in a horizontal pattern featuring both colorful and neutral stripes giving it an abstract rainbow-like appearance. The bags were made from locally sourced Palmyra leaf fibers, commonly known as raffia, which is naturally dyed using vegetal pigments extracted such as from hibiscus, millet husk and plant leaves, The artisanal process requires three to four weeks for the preparation of the materials, prior to the actual weaving stage. It then takes one week for an experienced weaver to make a basket bag. This product is made using no-waste manufacturing and sustainable materials.

For the collaboration with Scotch & Soda, Studio 189 chose to have the basket bags woven by ASIGE. Founded in 2016 by Dorcas Apoore, ASIGE invests in social programs and vocational training. The weaving of the bags is part of a larger initiative that provides work for local communities, made up primarily of women of all ages (from 18 years old and up), including widowers, young mothers, and grandmothers. The weaving work is a source of much needed income to support their basic living expenses and is adapted to their personal lives and schedules. ASIGE works with several communities in Bolgatanga that include both experienced and inexperienced weavers. Lead by Elizabeth Adongo and Nboo Avea, the community chosen to weave the Scotch & Soda bags is composed of 76 people, from which 41 women and one man were selected based on their higher weaving skills. The group was trained by Raymond Adongo, Elizabeth’s husband. An additional staff of 45 people from Studio189 in Ghana, primarily women, worked on this project between the factory, the studio, photography and video. The production of the bag activates an entire supply chain from design/development to raw materials to manufacturing to marketing to education.

The limited-edition love bag will retail for 149,95 euros (179 USD) and will be available on the Scotch & Soda website, as well as in a selection of the brand’s stores. All proceeds from the sale of the bags will be donated to Scotch & Soda’s partner, The Hunger Project, to support the organization’s initiatives in countries like Ghana.

Dorcas Apoore, Founder and CEO of ASIGE, declared: “Investing in women and girls is one of the surest ways to reach our sustainable development goals. When women are equipped with technical skills, they can rise above the poverty line in Ghana and in Africa as a whole.” Apoore added: “We are very happy to be working with Scotch & Soda. Since they came into our lives, we’ve seen the impact on our people. We look forward to a positive development with Studio 189, Scotch & Soda, and our community.”

Abrima Erwiah, Co-founder and President of Studio 189, said: “Through our collaboration with Scotch & Soda, we have been able to bring to life the “Born to Love Bag”, made in Ghana by women artisans by hand using locally sourced materials, in harmony with the planet. We are grateful to Scotch and Soda for entrusting us to translate their vision into reality and to use their platform to help amplify our message. It’s about dignity and about working together, honoring everyone’s work and contributions and delivering a project that is well designed, filled with Community, Joy and Heart.”

St├ęphane Jaspar, CMO of Scotch & Soda, commented: “I have been following Abrima’s project for years now and we are thrilled that we were able to partner together on this project as part of our ‘Born To Love” collections. It is a great opportunity to bring more awareness on her amazing mission and on the artisanal craftsmanship of rural communities in Africa, whilst supporting The Hunger Project’s initiatives in countries like Ghana.”

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