Osei-Duro is based in Los Angeles, CA and Accra, Ghana. We produce our textiles and garments in Ghana, India and Peru, applying traditional techniques including hand dyeing and weaving. We aim to support local apparel industries – on both large and small scales – in becoming sustainable.
We work towards a vibrant fashion industry, one that exceeds international production standards while respecting the rights and aesthetics of local makers.
In the Gonja district of Northern Ghana, indigo dyeing is said to be as old as the place itself. Here, the fresh leaves of the West African Wild Indigo plant known locally as Garra are harvested, pounded with an ashy mordant, and fermented in pits 6-7 feet deep. The dye takes several days to develop and can last anywhere between three days and three weeks before spoiling, depending on the weather. Once ready, local dyers repeatedly dip cotton yarn slated to be woven into garments into the natural dyestuff. The yarn aerates in between dips, transforming the Indigo from a rich green to a vivid blue, and then almost black, as it oxidizes.
Along with its indigenous indigo flora, the Gonja district is also known throughout Ghana for its highly skilled weavers. The cloth produced in this region is unmistakable, with its rich indigo color and unique patterns that are imprinted on the yarn before weaving using a resist-dye technique. The dyed yarn is woven into narrow strips on wooden double-heddle looms, operated by simple foot pedals. Strip-woven cloths manufactured using cotton and vegetable dyes are an ancient art form in West Africa, dating back to at least the tenth century. These weavers use the same equipment and techniques as their ancient forefathers - a testament to the beauty and uniqueness of the cloth.
Batik is a resist technique used for producing designs on cloth. The technique was brought to West Africa in the mid-nineteenth century by Belanda Hitam, Malay for Black Dutchmen, who served as indentured soldiers for the Dutch in Indonesia. Batik motifs are hand-painted or stamped with hot liquid wax, which penetrates the cloth to form a resist. When the hardened wax is dipped in the cold dye bath, small cracks form, producing the fine veins that are synonymous with handcrafted batik.
All Osei-Duro batik prints are created in collaboration with hand-batikers in Ghana.
Lost-wax brass casting was developed by the Asante people in Ghana to make objects for gold transactions, such as weights and canisters. Like their forefathers, Ghana’s brass casters begin the process of making metal articles by sculpting in beeswax. The wax form is then painted with a paste of fine charcoal and water and covered in a mold of coarse palm fibers and clay. This porous mixture permits the necessary release of hot air and gases as the mold is baked, giving the final product a smooth finish. Finally, the wax is poured out and replaced by molten brass. The finished brass piece is polished with palm nut fibers and sand over several days.
All Osei-Duro brass jewelry is created in collaboration with traditional casters in the Asante region of Ghana.
The alpaca is a long-haired domesticated South American mammal related to the llama. They live and graze on the level heights of the Andes at an altitude of 3,500 to 5,000 m (11,500 - 16,000 ft). They are considerably smaller than llamas, and unlike llamas, they were not bred to be beasts of burden but were bred specifically for their fibre.
Alpaca fleece is soft, lustrous and silky and while similar to sheep’s wool, alpaca is warmer, not prickly, and bears lanolin which makes it hypoallergenic.
All Osei-Duro sweaters are made from Peruvian alpaca, by a mother-daughter duo based in the Western Andes of Peru.
Block printing is one of the earliest and simplest methods of printing. Blocks of firm wood such as teak or ebony are cut into intricate designs, and strategic holes are drilled to let air escape from cavities in the design. The dye is placed in a vessel and covered by a heavy blanket, forming a pad saturated with color on which the blocks are pressed for repeated stamping onto the fabric.
All Osei-Duro block prints are created in collaboration with artisans in Bagru, India.