Now that we’re officially over the overpriced & monotonous designer lawn collections, (because let’s face it, who really enjoys wearing what everyone else has and paying a fortune for it too?), we explore the affordable & ethical versions of the fashion world like, Peshawari chappals which are making trends with foreign designers and ethnic eastern embroidery inspiring bohemian collections for haute couture designers, apparel and accessories in our local market which is being customised to contemporary wearable fusion and fashion with a sense of philanthropy – because that is the way to go when all mundane designs, kaam and prints hit the stores – there’s so much left unexplored! In a world where ‘ethical fashion’ is creating ripples and tides – we have just the thing for you this season!
As of late, a few online labels are teasing our sensory appetite with their crafty hip customised clothing and jewellery, at the same time these local brands train and empower female artisans in rural Pakistan to create trendy unique products that are oh so worthy of your attention.
1. Coiled by Zehra
If you’re looking for funky jewellery with a tribal, boho feel, look no further! Coiled by Zehra is where you can find bold statement necklaces made out of recycled textile, beaded tassels and all of these are reasonably priced as well. Zehra personally designs each piece, her team consists of rural female artisans in Jamshoro, Sindh who she seeks to empower and promote through providing marketable linkage to their craft. Looking good and feeling good never felt this good before!
2. Integrated People
Sarah Khatri is the mastermind and creative lead at Integrated People, an initiative started by college students for female artisans in Lyari, an area in Karachi notorious for its street crimes.. During the 2012 floods in Sindh (which floods? Context needs to be there), the team designed bracelets made out of the plastic bag litter around settlements which were made by flood victims themselves, the drive not only made fashionable accessories as a byproduct but cleaned the area which was littered with plastic bags. All proceeds collected for the bracelets went to the flood victims. This online brand has a lot to offer, hip beaded clutches and tribal jewellery, all designed by the women of Lyari.
Tali’s Creative Director is Sadiqa Hussain Tayebaly and her mission is to create and design products which tell us the story of the craftswoman behind it. Using recycled local material and traditional designs, her product line is diverse and rustic. From block printed scarves to accessories, Tali has much to offer, its block printed batik style scarves crafted by the women of rural Sindh are meticulous enough to be mistaken for digital prints. Proceeds from her products are utilised in trainings to develop female artisan master trainers to ensure promotion of craft and talent represented by marginalised populations in Pakistan.
4. Cut The Posh (@cuttheposh)
This Dubai based brand is led by Rahat, a corporate marketer turned social entrepreneur, born and bred in rural Sindh who designs a small collection of ‘boho chic’ western clothing and accessories made by female artisans from villages in Sindh. The power girl behind the brand designs each piece, giving it a contemporary edge but promoting traditional stitches, threadwork and block printing. Every product designed by Rahat is hand crafted, she draws her inspiration from indigenous crafts women in rural Sindh adorned themselves with. Having no market linkage for these dying customs and designs, she took on the role of designing them thus adding substantially to their livelihoods from the comfort of their homes. Our favourite are all the flowy long and short dresses perfect to stun on your next tropical getaway, wearable in the sweltering summer heat on beach days. Kudos to all her hard work and dedication!
5. Inaaya Online
Pioneered by Naushaba Brohi from Khairpur (isn’t she from Karachi Originally from Khairpur?), Inaaya is a luxury brand which focuses on empowering female artisans through ethnic crafts. This former media guru turned and graduate from NCA, her real calling was always towards sustainable and ethical fashion and the vacuum which existed for so many years. Naushaba has worked closely with female artisans in her native area, an idea which was conceived during the floods in Sindh a few years ago. Not only does she use traditional crafts to create contemporary designs, she works to strengthen her supply chain consisting of female artisans, a concept she likes to call “rural entrepreneurship”. Some of the brands stunning mix of east and west include the very hip off shoulder ‘baatin surf Kaaftan’, a mix of flowy irish linen silhouette embellished with a handcrafted rilli border. Get your hands on Inaaya’s online collection and empower the women working behind it!
6. Blocked by Afsheen Numair
Get blocked by the meticulously crafted selection of fabrics designed by Afsheen Numair and worked on by female artisans in rural Sindh and Punjab. Her recent collections, namely ‘of the earth’ and ‘Kingri’, is a mix of the eastern Mughal look with a touch of the wandering gypsy. The chosen colour palettes, the compositions and juxtaposition between regal silhouettes originate from research on the Sufi culture, as well as ancient textile work. Edgy, ethnical and traditional are the vibes you get from her latest collection – her whites are a must shop, especially the white peshwas collection, a difficult outfit to customise in the modern context.
7. S Jo Accessories
This brand was started by Central Saint Martins textile design graduate, Seher Mirza after she led extensive design workshops with female artisans in Sindh during her visits to Sindh as part of her thesis. Her bohemian inspired jewellery is fascinating and bold . Paired with a black tank top and flow-y palazzos, a statement pink ‘handmade ethical ombre necklace’ is just the right match to get your beach Sunday outfit sorted! The female artisans who create these pieces pick their own colour compositions. Make sure you a label with the name of the craftswoman. This is what we call social entrepreneurship!
Happy ethical shopping!