As Western consumers buy more and more clothing—about five times as much as we bought in 1980—African countries have become both the source of garments like our blue jeans and their ultimate resting place. In this webinar, recorded on August 18, 2022, Pulitzer Center grantee Ryan Lenora Brown and Sammy Oteng, of The Or Foundation, discuss the impacts of globalization and fast fashion with the Pulitzer Center's climate and labor editor, Christine Spolar.
Brown’s project, The Hidden Lives of Our Blue Jeans, looks at the effects of fast fashion on one tiny African country, Lesotho, in an attempt to show how the West’s hunger for the latest trends is affecting the lives of people on the other side of the world. Working at the intersection of environmental justice, education, and fashion development, The Or Foundation's mission is to identify and manifest alternatives to the dominant model of fashion—alternatives that bring forth ecological prosperity, as opposed to destruction, and that inspire citizens to form a relationship with fashion that extends beyond their role as consumer.
Speakers for this conversation include:
Ryan Lenora Brown, who is a freelance reporter and an Africa correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor. Her reporting interests skew long, narrative, and offbeat, with a particular interest in women, migrants, and cities. She has reported from nearly two dozen countries on the continent, and, in addition to the Monitor, she has been published in The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazine, Runner's World, Newsweek, The Atlantic's CityLab, ForeignPolicy.com, The Daily Beast, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Al Jazeera, U.S. News & World Report, and the Guardian, among others.
Sammy Oteng is senior community engagement manager at The Or Foundation. He is a trained fashion designer based in Accra, Ghana's capital, and has been repurposing secondhand pieces for over a decade. Within his work, he is keen on making a socio-political statement, exploring issues of neo-colonialism, sexuality, and gender fluidity. He is a Gucci Design Fellowship finalist. Prior to joining the Or team, Oteng led a research project on secondhand clothing consumer behavior in Accra, and has spoken about the impact of the secondhand clothing trade in Accra across an array of media.