Adom Fashion Group

We’ve always loved the vivid colors and witty prints of African wax cloth. So, when we were approached with the opportunity of buying wax cloth clothing from the Adom Fashion Group, a women’s sewing collective in Ghana, it was a no-brainer. We’re proud that Cargo is the collective’s first international market.

The sewing collective consists of 24 women training as seamstresses and tailors. Two years ago, Peace Corps volunteer Susan Lockyer arrived in Abeadze Dominase, Ghana, with the goal of helping the community boost economic development. Susan’s friend, Portlander Allison Norman, caught a photo online of Susan and her Peace Corps class, all wearing wax cloth prints, and wanted to know where she could buy a dress of her own. The idea for the Adom Fashion Group grew from there. 

“Our goal with helping the seamstress program is to show the apprentices that there’s opportunity to make a life of their choosing and have their own income stream, if they stick with the program and graduate,” Allison says. Lucky for us, when it was time to find a market for the collective’s work, Allison knocked at our door. 

Our first step was to choose the fabric. Patty spent time at the computer in the middle of the night to select patterns as Susan texted photos live from the market. They found some amazing prints, including eyeballs, diamond rings flinging sparkles, prancing horses, giant pairs of scissors, and swifts in flight—all in mélanges of purple, green, orange, and blue.

We commissioned simple but flattering designs to let the wax cloth prints be the star. The Adom seamstresses fashioned patterns from our drawings, then sewed the garments on Chinese hand-cranked sewing machines—important, since electricity at their workshop is spotty, at best. When the garments were finished, the seamstresses smoothed them out with cast iron heated by coals. The women, some with babies on their backs, work in a large, open-air room with sounds of the village filtering in. The occasional child wanders by to try on a newly-sewn pinafore.

The Adom Fashion Group is still young, but they’ve already seen results in the renewed commitment of the seamstresses to their training. The result is a stronger community of Ghanian women, a wider appreciation of West African design, and a chic Cargo customer. 

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