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Fashion (MA)

Joyce Addai-Davis

Since 2015, Joyce Addai-Davis has chosen to exclusively wear self-made or upcycled clothing to address her concerns about the negative environmental effects of fast fashion. Throughout her MA studies at the Royal College of Art, her focus was on reclaiming discarded materials and creating purposeful fashion without using new resources. Her research delved into demodulation, consumer behaviour analysis, and digital design, all with the goal of combating the harmful practice of waste colonialism.

Taking inspiration from the Ghanaian warrior Yaa Asantewaa, Joyce aims to transform waste into something beautiful and desirable. Simultaneously, she aims to raise awareness about the issue of waste from the Global North being dumped in developing countries in the Global South, particularly in landfills. By pursuing her work in fashion, Joyce hopes to shed light on this problem and encourage a shift in consumer attitudes towards waste and sustainability.

The phrase "Chronicles of a Bola (Waste) Girl" refers to a concept that encapsulates Joyce's journey, experiences, and documentation related to her work with waste and fashion. The content revolves around the narrative of a girl specifically focused on waste-related matters. This title serves as a platform to showcase her efforts, insights, and challenges encountered throughout her sustainable fashion endeavours.

In the Twi language, a language originating from Ghana "Bola" means "Rubbish/Waste," while in the Yoruba language, a language originating from Nigeria, “Bola” means "Bring home wealth." The paradox between these two contrasting meanings holds significant power within Joyce's work, highlighting the complex relationship between waste, value, and cultural perspectives.

Trainer made from Primark pyjamas

Image: Trainer made from old dismantled trainers and deconstructed Primark pyjamas, exhibited in London's Design Museum, South Kensington, 2022

The day I traveled to Tema's landfill site and Chorkor beach in Ghana, I discovered the sheer amount of textile waste present in both locations. This experience triggered an immediate and intense feeling of anger towards the lack of understanding from the Global North regarding public health and the waste they exported to developing countries. The transboundary movement of hazardous waste from the Global North to the Global South, disguised as a commodity for locals to use, is a topic addressed in "Transboundary movement of Hazardous waste" by Shukla (2020, The long-term disruptive effects of this waste far outweigh any immediate gains.

The presence of textile waste in Ghana's sewage system and on the beach shores contributes to the spread of waterborne diseases such as Cholera and Malaria (Skinner, 2019). It was truly disheartening to come across a glittery New Look stiletto on the shore of Chorkor beach, considering that New Look, the brand, does not have any outlet stores or production sites in Ghana.

As a result of what I witnessed, I now recognize the need to consider more than just the consumer when designing. I must ask myself questions like "How can I incorporate an afterlife into my design process? Have I taken into account the biodegradability of the product's dismantling processes?" Furthermore, I contemplate the essence of existence, questioning whether a fashion garment or accessory should truly exist if it doesn't have an engineered afterlife.

Digital Footwear: Should This Exist?
Virtual Reality Footwear A trainer created in virtual reality challenges the notion of existence, prompting an exploration of iterative design approaches and questioning the purpose of a product. If a product cannot be dismantled or naturally decomposed by the earth, should it truly exist? This line of inquiry delves into the concept of sustainable design and the impact of products on the environment.
Leather boots and jacket made from discarded waste leather scraps
Waste Leather Two-Piece Leather boots and leather jacket made by designer. All pieces made from scrap leather.
The Chronicles of a "Bola" (Waste) Girl The Chronicles of a "Bola" (Waste) Girl Toxic Fashion - The Detachment to Earth A Joyce Addai-Davis Production. Director of Photography and Drone Operator Raymond Nii Ayi Lamptey Directed by Joyce Addai-Davis Copyright 2023 Joyce Addai-Davis
Scrap leather bag,
The Chronicles of a "Bola" (Waste) GirlBag made from scrap leather
Oil on canvas painting of Yaa Asantewaa's partner in crime
Yaa Asantewaa's BooThis painting portrays Yaa Asantewaa's partner in crime, a King from another kingdom. I posed a question: If Yaa needed a life partner to combat waste colonialism, what would they be like? How would they appear? This oil-on-canvas artwork represents Yaa's imagined significant other.