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Abrima Erwiah of Studio 189 named director at Parsons

By Kristopher Fraser

Sep 15, 2021

Abrima Erwiah, one the co-founders of Studio 189, has been named the new director of the New School’s Parsons School of Design’s newly formed Joseph and Gail Gromek Institute of Fashion Business. Erwiah steps into her new role this month, where she will be launching the institute, creating new programming, conducting research, and developing the new endeavor.

“My goal is to create a center of learning excellence that goes beyond any border or traditional way of thinking and disrupts the fashion industry in every possible way,” Erwiah said in a statement. “We want to lead the charge in the evolution of the fashion industry and to help prepare the next generation of leaders in fashion business. We want to encourage the business of fashion design by operating as an innovation hub that cross pollinates across the industry and that creates hybrid programs across disciplines so we can work with the best of the best in tech, sustainability, business, design, law, media, manufacturing, retail and more.”

As reported by WWD, the institute was created by virtue of an 8.5-million-dollar endowment from Joseph Gromek, the former president and CEO of Warnaco Group, and his Wife Gail. It was the largest single gift of Parsons in the institutions 123-year history.

Erwiah joined Parsons in 2019 and teaches both undergraduate and graduate level courses on fashion design. She is best known in the fashion industry as the founder of Studio 189, a collective brand that produces apparel from Africa for men, women, and children. The brand was co-founded with actress Rosario Dawson, and recently had a very successful New York Fashion Week show.

Erwiah has a very impressive resume having worked at Bottega Veneta, Cesar Paciotti, Hermès, and John Lobb. She was considered an ideal candidate for the role based on her fashion business experience and commitment to diversity and equity, an issue the fashion industry has been reckoning with since the civil rights protests of 2020.