Dead White Men’s Clothes is Reinventing Up-Cycling

Jojo Gronostay and Amsterdam Berlin take capitalism into their own hands.

Collaborative project, Dead White Men’s Clothes, between Ghanian artist Jojo Gronostay and creative agency Amsterdam Berlin is a way of re-inventing upcycling as an effort to support local Ghanian artists. During the 70s and 80s, when cases such as the Ethiopian famine and Aids crisis in Africa became more mainstream it prompted a multitude of charities and relief organizations to pop up and gather donations to help. Aside from Live Aid and TV commercials pleading to give “just one dollar a month”, the west began giving away discarded clothing that would eventually end up in poorer communities on the continent. At first, these clothes earned the name “obroni wawu” or dress of a dead white man, because of the disbelief people had upon discovering that they were given away- thus, assuming that the owner had died.

But the donations actually ended up doing more damage to local designers and retailers than charities realized (or cared). DWMC describes the situation as follows, “While used clothes donated in the West might be helpful in the short run, they destroy the local textile economy in the long-term. Effectively, hindering independence from the West.” Which is why the artist and creative agency duo seek to change or even raise awareness to this by taking clothing from Accra, Ghana (aka the graveyard for discarded fashion) and selling them online. Giving earnings of the project to young Ghanian designers to ensure the receding textile industry doesn’t disappear completely or lose its identity. As sustainability becomes more fashionable, DWMC asks the question in this short film below, “What will the future of luxury look like?”



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