An Op-Ed on the intersection of Culture and Sustainability in Japan and Ghana by Samata
A multicultural phenomenon, the global fashion industry provides sustenance to designers from a plethora of cultural backgrounds. Exploring the lessons, traditional practises and cultural philosophies which might benefit the ethical fashion sector, I focused on two countries close to my heart; Ghana, the birthplace of my parents, and Japan, an intriguing country I studied in school (picking up an AS in Japanese to boot during my A-Levels). In doing so I wonder if the space where culture and fashion intersect provides progressive ground in the sustainable fashion conversation. Starting in Ghana, where clothing matters, and both expensive Western and traditional items are an important symbol of education and wealth.
Ghana’s Visual Eco Dialogue
Fashion’s spotlight is on the culture-rich continent Africa – the sub-saharan market alone is worth $31 billion according to Euromonitor whilst Ghana, one of its 55 countries and known cultural gateway to West Africa, boasts an apparel and footwear market worth $167 million. Underneath the vibrant noise of the popular cotton wax prints, sustainability has always been an ongoing cultural conversation, and according to Kofi Laing, Joy 99.7fm radio host and Multi Tv’s fashion presenter, the Adinkra symbols – dating back to royal attire circa 1817 – prove it. “Adinkra is a sacred cloth using adinkra symbols, which are proverbs of advice relating to the proper conduct of the individual in society. Rooted in tradition and an inherent respect for the earth, Adinkra are used to express traditional Ghanaian proverbs, even commemorating anniversaries and elections.” A visual tool, the designs and patterns are a communicative statement printed on furniture, sculptures and clothing which both a literal meaning and philosophical message. Not your average statement tee, embroidered with traditional symbols this clothing often channels a message of sustainability. Read more…