The Talented Artisans Behind Osei-Duro
Osei-Duro’s designs might look supremely modern, but each stitch is rooted in Ghana’s sartorial history—the line, masterminded by Molly Keogh and Maryanne Mathias, is produced in the country from start to finish. “Ghana is in a really interesting transition,” notes Molly. “There are a lot of traditional weaving and dyeing, but, at the same time, the market is being flooded by Chinese knockoffs of the prints that have traditionally been made there.” Here are some of the talented peeps behind Osei-Duro who, according to Maryanne, help them keep things real.
“The shoemakers live in an old dilapidated house in Accra in the fisherman’s neighborhood on the coast. It’s the oldest part of the city and home to the Ga people, the earliest settlers in Accra. The shoemakers learned their craft from Eric’s father, a master-shoemaker. He has trained many a young apprentice. He still works, but he’s always at the front of the gate with a large, toothy smile, asking us how we are doing, and where the other one is.”
“One of the main reasons we feel making shoes in Ghana is so important is because the art of it is dying out there. More people are choosing to buy ready-made shoes from China, as the prices of labor and leather continue to rise in Ghana. We don’t want to see these trades die—getting a custom pair of shoes is such a special treat.”
“Aisha is our shining star. Originally from Niger, now living in Nima, she has not finished high school, but she is so motivated to learn and grow as a businessperson. When we had an order for 1,500 crochet dresses and tops, she enlisted all the neighborhood women to learn crochet and wind balls of string—sounds easy, but it’s not. She had to use her math skills and travel all over Accra coordinating people and colors—all on a super tight deadline.”
First three photos courtesy of Jonathan Alderson; last photo courtesy of Aisha herself.