Meet The Designers: "A Textile Story" by Osei-Duro

by Alisa Furoyama | November 10, 2015

One of the newest women's collections in-store is from Osei-Duro. It's a brand we've been following for sometime now. What drew us in initially was their story, the process and the textiles. We took a moment to ask designers Maryanne Mathias and Molly Keogh some questions about how the brand came to be and the long road that's brought them to where they are today.


When was the very first Osei-Duro collection launched? How did the brand come to be and what was the initial vision for it?

MK: "In 2007 Maryanne took a trip around the world and designed capsule collections in textile rich countries such as Ghana, Morocco, Egypt, and India. When she returned to Canada we reconnected and created Osei-Duro. Our initial trip to Ghana together was framed as a "textile experiment," to see what would happen when different aesthetics intersected, and we really continue to see all of our projects as explorations."



How did the two of you meet and what inspired both of you to work on this collection together? How do your roles differ in the company? Were both of your backgrounds in design and fashion?

MM: "We met in 12th grade at the Vancouver Waldorf School, and shared a love for fashion then. We both did Bachelor's Degrees in Fashion Design, and Maryanne then preceded to get her MBA. Molly is currently in grad school studying African Studies. We mostly do everything together, though Molly has an eye for detail and Maryanne is more big-picture. We find that our differences make us great partners!"



Your collection tells us such a beautiful story about a place and time that most people will not get to experience hands on. Tell us about the process from design to fabric conception to working with the artisans and then to production.

"When we first arrived in Ghana we really had to start from scratch. Over the past six years we've built up a very strong team of artisans and tailors, and a lot of our designs come out of the process of working with them. It was trial-and-error to find people who were a good fit with Osei-Duro, and we feel so fortunate to such a dedicated community.

"In Ghana we import most of our silk and rayon from countries that produce it, so usually India and China. We purchase our cotton and linen in Ghana. We do all the hand dying in Ghana, as well as the cutting and sewing. The process of hand-dying is very involved and there is a lot of room for error. We have learned through our mistakes, and now mostly have a solid system, but it's really truly both an art and a science!"




We love that your products empower and employ artisans, especially in areas where work may be harder to find. Your pieces shed light on traditional processes that could be lost in a world of mass produced goods. Initially how did you choose to work with artisans from Ghana as opposed to other places? Now you're also sourcing fabrics and textiles from India and Peru. How has that differed from your work in Ghana and what other areas do you see Osei-Duro expanding into?

"We wanted to find a country that had a rich textile cottage industry, but still wasn't very developed. Ghana was a good choice because it fits that criteria and is also English speaking with a relatively stable economy and government. This year Maryanne traveled to India for three months to work with artisans there and develop our Spring/Summer '16 collection. The Indian handmade textile industry is very established so it was interesting to compare and contrast with the industry in Ghana. The main difference we found was accessibility and logistics of getting an artisan product out to the world. In Ghana there are no agents, so if you want to produce there you have to physically set-up shop and have someone in-house managing production. India has an industry of managers/agents who can help foreigners do business more easily."



Just a little about each of you: What do you like to do in your spare time when not working on the Osei-Duro collection? Of the places you've visited, what was your most memorable or favorite and why?

MM: "I'm taking time off from travel so at the moment I'm trying to settle and gain back some equilibrium in my life. Right now I'm so happy just doing yoga, hiking, cooking and eating good food, spending time with friends, discussing, and listening to music.

"Memorable place: Mauritania was the strangest/most unique country I have visited. I ran out of money and there were no ATMs. A Peace Corps volunteer lent me $40 to get to Morocco. The country is mostly rock and sand, and has very few tourists. I hitchhiked on an iron ore train from the desert to the coast overnight. We, myself and a Mauritanian family who took me under their wing, literally sat on train wagons full of iron ore flakes for 12 hours. We watched the sun set and sun rise, sang songs, and drank tea. I will never forget that experience."

MO: "Having just come back to school I spend a ton of time reading and trying to remember calculus and teaching a rad textile class where we get to light things on fire. I'm enjoying taking advantage of talks and films on campus, and watching the leaves turn here in Indiana. My first fall in many years!

"Memorable travels - oof, hard to choose just one. Ilha do Mel in Brazil is somewhere I remember being profoundly happy. There are no cars on the island, just endless beaches... Niamey, Niger was also a really memorable place. It truly felt like an ancient trade crossroads, with working camels and men in amazing turbans, and a shocking heat that really distorts reality in a great way.



We think it's a beautiful name. What does Osei Duro mean and why did you choose it to represent your brand?

MM: "Osei is a prefix which means "noble, or honorable" and Duro is derived from Oduro and means, medicine, or magic. Put together it's "noble medicine" or "powerful magic."


Posted in Fashion

This is Lu.

by Alisa Furoyama | October 05, 2015


Sculptural cuts and an effortless fit are the signatures of Lu, an exciting new label from local designer Jenny Fort. For our next designer trunk show we're thrilled to feature the simply smart and unique pieces that sum up Lu's fall collection.



Jenny's refreshing approach to her designs was born from a need to have utilitarian fashion that was wearable everyday. The Lu fall collection, which is manufactured here in Seattle, carries a casual sophistication with silhouettes that are perfect for layering and a minimal palette lending each style to becoming a staple wardrobe piece. Join us in the shop Thursday October 15th for drinks and a look at the Lu collection!



Posted in Events, Fashion, FW15, Seattle

Introducing 7115 by Szeki

by Alisa Furoyama | October 01, 2015


7115 by Szeki is a collection full of uniform essentials. Shapes that are beautiful in their simplicity with clean lines and a modern disposition. We are so drawn to their everyday appeal. We took a moment to stop by one of their two shops when we were in New York last and chatted with designer Szeki Chan about her story and the collection.  This Fall and Winter we will debut our selected items from the 7115 line in-store at Glasswing.



GW: We understand that 7115 has been around for the last five years now. How did the line come to be? What compelled you to start designing clothing? What is your vision for the brand?

"After graduating from Parsons with a degree in Design Technology, I took a couple years off to pursue a career in music. As much as I enjoy the thrill of being on stage, it wasn't the right life for me. I decided to move back to NY. With absolutely no plan in mind, I picked up jewelry-making as a hobby, which turned into a passion. Next thing you know, I was a local street vendor selling on the front stoop of my building. The positive response with my makeshift jewelry stand sparked my curiosity in exploring apparel design. To be completely honest, I didn’t have a “vision” when I started--I just wanted to make nice things that I liked and I could afford. 7115’s mission wasn’t solidified until much later on, developing over the years, and after many mistakes. Slowly I discovered my true passion and what kind of business I wanna build and what I wanna put out in the world. Today 7115’s vision is simple and straightforward: we are a brand dedicated to well-designed and well-constructed apparel that is within reach."




GW: Over the last five years, how has the brand changed, if at all? Are there any designs that are still around from the beginning? If so, which ones?

"Over the past few years, 7115 has been progressing and maturing. We have grown to truly embrace our pragmatic vision of apparel design. Instead of merely scraping the surface, we strive to explore our core values at all levels of design and production, working hard to ensure every garment we produce lives up to the 7115 standard. We definitely have signature styles that we think are worth keeping around, simply because they’re too good not to... like our kimono dress. But more often than not, 7115 strives to bring new life to our classic silhouettes by reinventing their construction, perfecting the tailoring, exploring new ways to achieve seamlessness and highlight shape and line. I think this is clear in our upcoming collection for SS16, where we are elevating our classic gathered trouser, reversible maxi and the drawstring relaxed pants by refining the fit and construction."



GW: 7115 by Szeki. How did you come up with your brand name? It's quite interesting! Is there any sort of story or meaning behind it?

"7115 is the telegram code for my last name CHAN, all the Chan’s have the same code on their Hong Kong ID card. It’’s my little way to honor my family. And on a visual level, the angular shapes of the number just works with our aesthetic.



GW: Tell me a little bit about your process. How do start your designs? Where do you find inspiration? How are your fabrics sourced? Where is the line produced and what is that process like?

"At 7115, we take three distinct qualities into consideration: Aesthetic, Quality, Attainability. Itʼs a circular process of design and reasoning that we use to perfect our product until balance is achieved. As the designer, my motivation usually comes from a design challenge. I work in our LES location at least 2 days a week, and nothing inspires me more than the everyday women who walk into my stores, being able to directly speak to my customer is the most exciting source of inspiration. Learning about who they are? What they dress for? What they aspire to be? What are they missing in the wardrobe? The design challenge is to incorporate everything that 7115 stands for into something that customer need and want. Our production studio in Guangzhou City is a about 10 mins away from the largest fabric market in China. Our studio colleague walks the market at least once a week to discover new fabric. We work mostly with natural and sustainable fabrics like linen, cotton, tencel silk, and wool. All 7115 garments-- from patterning to packaging--are made within our in-house studio. Our studio crew is a mix of textile graduates and experienced seamstresses, led by a former textile professor of Guangzhou University. In-house small scale production allows us to achieve consistency and flexibility, ensuring we produce our line with as little waste and the best quality possible."



GW: A little bit about yourself! Where are you from? I know that you attended school in NY and currently call the city home but what was life like for you growing up?

"I was born and raised in Hong Kong, moved to the UK as a teenager then moved again to New York for college. I studied design since the age of 12 and it has been a part of me ever since. I grow up navigating myself through different medium and design disciplines, like graphic design, 3D, ceramics, photography... I was always curious and dying to try new technique. At Parsons I decided to major in something that I’ve never heard of, Design and Technology, and it turned out to be the best experience and education I could have hoped for. Today although I work mostly in apparel, I still feel my design practices are rooted from my background and my studies, and I believe that brings 7115 a different perspective.


Posted in Fashion, FW15

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