The global Fast Fashion industry is one of the largest culprits of our climate crisis today. In this article, we introduce you to HS Vintage, the Ghanaian vintage store tackling the clothing waste crisis in Accra.
With Fast Fashion becoming more prevalent over the years, the global fashion industry is the world’s third-largest polluter after food and construction – contributing over 5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions annually (World Economic Forum).
Kantamanto, a town in the heart of Ghana’s capital Accra, is home to the most critical effects of Fast Fashion, receiving thousands of preloved clothing from Western countries weekly.
With about 40% of these clothes being in landfills or water bodies due to their poor quality, the environmental impacts on the places Ghanaians call home could be dire. Ghanaian vintage store HS Vintage is on a mission to play its part in ensuring that the remaining 60% find a new purpose.
Eli Smith and Henry Yorke are an eclectic duo behind a variety of experiences and fashion trends in Accra. They are the founders of Ghana’s pioneering online vintage clothing store HS Vintage Store.
Established in 2018, HS Vintage aims to push sustainable practices by providing one-of-a-kind fashion pieces that meet global demand, whilst staying ahead of the curve of thrifting behaviors in the fast-paced city of Accra.
With sub-cultures like skateboarding and motorbiking becoming more prevalent in areas like Jamestown, street style is penetrating into the spaces of a new generation of trailblazers who are more open to experimenting with fashion. Fuelling the need for alternative and expressive pieces, HS Vintage has developed a great reputation for sourcing.
Smith and Yorke met through a mutual friend and bonded over a pair of vintage pants Yorke had sourced from Kantamanto. Yorke’s knowledge of the Ghanaian thrifting scene as a stylist for some of Ghana’s best music talents and Smith’s business acumen and understanding of the value of vintage clothing presented the perfect opportunity for them to partner and form what is now known to be HS Vintage.
From Smith’s perspective, vintage clothing is an art form that calls for a unique form of expression for its consumers – there’s a personal connection to every piece that can’t be duplicated. He considers them as ownable assets that increase in value over time as one would expect from a traditional piece of art. He believes what sets HS Vintage apart from its local counterparts is its ability to stay aligned with global industry trends and create a next to an immediately-accessible avenue for a Ghanaian audience to obtain their pieces. It’s very important to the HS Vintage team to ensure that their pieces are affordable for their audiences to combat the need to purchase items from Fast Fashion outlets.
The primary challenge faced by the business when it first started was popularising the concept of vintage clothing to a key aspect of its target audience — middle-class Ghanaian millennials. The idea of buying pre-loved clothing instead of keeping up with the latest fits from the Fast Fashion scene needed a cultural shift that Smith and Yorke achieved through a variety of experiences they curated via another business they’re involved in – Medici. The relentless desire to try new things and introduce alternative events people didn’t know they needed defines the culture of Medici.
With this grasp of the fashion and social experiences in Accra, HS Vintage was able to have an in-depth backend understanding of the culture that keeps the city moving. This in turn gave them the ability to define fashion trends that align with their mission to extend the practice of sustainable fashion which took a lot of research, and trial and error to make happen.
With over 4000 items already sold via Instagram, Pop-Ups and Depop, they’re well on their way to cementing their spot as the leading vintage store in Accra. Attracting other notable vintage streetwear sellers like Tommy McBuckets to their store and features in the official music video for “Dimensions”, a single from East London producer Jae5 ft Rema and Skepta.
As the vintage clothing industry is still growing on the African continent, there aren’t a lot of readily available resources to gain insights from. Nevertheless, assessing case studies from other regions, watching IG Lives from other business owners and becoming walking billboards by incorporating vintage clothing into their own wardrobes made a significant difference in shifting the needle on streetwear culture in Accra.
Yorke also believes in the ability of vintage clothing to make a statement and function as a medium of self-expression and style.
“It’s not just about the brands, it’s about what you put on and how it looks on you.”
HS Vintage involves communicating the quality and longevity of vintage pieces compared to those acquired from more traditional means of consumption. With the extended shelf life of these pieces, there are positive environmental impacts that Ghana could benefit from instead of adopting the more invasive practices of the West in relation to fast fashion. Yorke is confident that as long as sustainability remains at the forefront of operations at HS Vintage, they are one step closer to creating a cleaner future for Ghana and the world at large.
The vision of HS Vintage is to expand its sustainable practices to other regions on the African continent. They are on a mission to take over Fashion Shows and change the global narrative of pre-loved clothing and the need to be kinder to the environment.
HS Vintage has collaborated with other African musicians including Black Sherif, Wavy The Creator, and Quamina MP.
For World Environment Day, take the bold step in creating a greener Earth by checking out the online vintage store here.