DEAD WHITE MENS CLOTHES™ is a project by Ghanaian artist Jojo Gronostay and Amsterdam Berlin. The origins of the name lie in the Ghanaian term “obroni wawu“, which translates directly to “dress of the dead white man”. A description the locals came up with when the first wave of second-hand clothes from the West swept into their country in the 70’s. They could not believe that clothing of such quality was just given away. Instead they assumed that the previous owners must have died.
A frightening observation that gave rise to the DWMC™ project – a label set out to provoke a discourse on capitalism, post-colonialism, identity and fashion. The label’s clothes are sourced on the Kantamanto Market in Accra, Ghana. One of the worldwide largest collection points for used clothing. A place where cheaply produced garments from China are placed next to second-hand clothes from Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America. A graveyard for discarded fashion. But also, the birthplace of selected pieces that DWMC™ relabels and then reintroduces, into the cycle of capitalism.
In recent years, the mass-producing textile industry has been part of a major conflict between Western countries and Africa. While used clothes donated in the West might be helpful in the short run, they destroy the local textile economy in the long-term. Effectively, hindering independence from the West. A condition DWMC™ tries to counteract by donating the label’s profits to support young African designers.
The vicious cycle will continue nonetheless. To at least draw attention to this situation, the project’s communication centres around a socio-critical short film that contrasts two different concepts of luxury. Decadence on the one hand, morality as a possible future commodity, on the other. DEAD WHITE MENS CLOTHES™ thereby raises an important question: “What will the future of luxury look like?”
“COLLECTION II CONSISTS OF 118 PIECES. EVERY PIECE IS UNIQUE. FROM SUITS AND TIMELESS CLASSICS TO NEON COLOURED WORKWEAR AND SOUVENIR T-SHIRTS – ALTERED READY-MADE CLOTHING THAT JUSXTAPOSES THE ZEITGEIST OF ANTI-FASHION WITH AN ARCHETYPE OF WESTERN MEDIOCRACY.”
Arial Narrow Regular
Arial Narrow Regular
The corporate design of DEAD WHITE MENS CLOTHES™ is built from an inclusive mindset. Every element in use is accessible by anyone who owns a computer. The typeface in use is Arial Narrow, a font that is installed on 95% of all existing personal computers. There are no Pantone colours, no fancy icons and no complicated patterns. Merely default type, a grey tone that closely resembles they grey electronic waste that’s being raided for copper on the outskirts of Accra and of course excessive use of negative space.
The communication for the project centres around a short film and includes numerous social media assets. Based on classic fashion ads, it contrasts two different concepts of luxury. Decadence on one hand, morality, represented by the DWMC™ collection, as a possible future commodity, on the other.
DWMC™ Print Ads
The DWMC™ webshop is presented through a series of video tiles that play randomly. The characters make small gestures that underline the creative concept behind the campaign.
To make the project more accessible it was supported by a merchandise line consisting of a t-shirt and a hoodie. The back print lists the countries of origin of the mainline’s items – quoted from the original tags it contains errors and unusual wording.