After flying to Ghana, Maryanne Mathias was surprised to find herself staying to design and execute a collection of clothing. Eager to do more and looking for help, she got in touch with an old friend, Molly Keogh. "I asked Molly to join me as a partner when we were at our 10-year high school reunion," Mathias says.
The girls had shared a passion for fashion since attending high school together in Vancouver, but their collection of ready-to-wear—dubbed Osei Duro, which translates to "honorable magic" in Akan—was a new adventure for both.
"When I went there originally, I was inspired by the bold African prints and their traditional handicrafts," says Mathias. "We were excited about the traditional methods in the region, and knew that it was a relatively safe place to work," adds Keogh. "The traditional textiles are being undercut and edged out by Chinese imitations, [so we] hope that our work can increase an international demand for the real thing and help support the local industry."
Given their fashion-forward designs—all of which are produced in Ghana in conjunction with local crafters and artisans—we don't see why not, with on-trend pieces like bold clementine orange palazzo pants, open-knit crop tops and hand-dyed skirts that would sing on a rack.
Each finished piece represents hours of creative collaboration between the ladies and their crafters.
"There is a lot of back and forth as we develop the prints," says Keogh. "We might request an experimental technique that is new to the dyers, or they might suggest a traditional method they think suits a need. We send samples and sketches back and forth with the dyers and the sewers and the cobblers until everyone is satisfied with the results." Thankfully, the top-notch product shows their dedicated efforts, and soon, Osei Duro will expand into homewares and accessories.