By Jodi Truglio
We tend to see a country through the eyes of the media. This is especially true for far off nations populated by people quite different than we are, with a different way of life, culture and religion. It’s only when we take the time to dig a little deeper do we realize there is much more to this story than we are being told, and this is definitely the case for Pakistan.
When most Westerners conjure this place up in their minds, probably images of a dry, poor, dusty place populated with pockets of terrorism comes to mind.
But in fact, Pakistan is a geographically varied – and often quite beautiful – nation whose economy has long been heavily based on textiles, agriculture, and food production. In fact, Pakistan has often even been cited as a model for economic development around the world.
Like any country, however, it is not without its problems, and some of the main issues here are domestic violence and gender equality. Almost half of Pakistan’s population is comprised of women, yet they remain the most socially and economically more vulnerable due to the lack of gender equality. They are also subjected to violence this has led to women and children being most affected by poverty and a lack of opportunities.
Luckily, there is one company giving Pakistani women a chance to rise above all of this. Meet Purple Impression, the apparel brand that produces stunningly embroidered tops, dresses, scarves, tunics and is now launching award winning sustainable sneakers. It was founded by two sisters in 2014 with the main goal of empowering women by employing female artisans to use their skills to embroider their Fuse line of vegan sneakers.
Old Traditions, New Opportunities
For over 3,000 years, Pakistani women have mastered the art of hand embroidery to tell the story of their region, but today, it’s a diminishing art form as a result of more modern equipment leading to mass production. Purple Impression is trying to maintain this embroidery tradition by working directly with artisans in the city of Multan, which is also known to be one of the oldest inhabited cities of the world.
The company provides the women they employ with fair wages and empowers them with the tools they need for a chance to become economically independent: “We are big advocates of a ‘trade not aid’ policy that states that through fair trade and dignified work, you can eliminate poverty and make a bigger impact on people’s lives,” states Afshan Khan, Co-founder of Purple Impression.
“We believe that the people who produce our clothes deserve our respect and support. By honoring the skills of the people we can preserve many traditions and provide an opportunity for them to sustain a livelihood,” she adds.
Each sneaker is embroidered by hand and personally signed by the artisan who made it. In doing so, she is giving customer a small window into a world they might never have the opportunity to see. There’s a warm, personal touch here that bridges the gap between maker and consumer.
“Shoe making today is still a very manual process which means a lot of human hands are involved in the manufacturing of our shoes. This makes Fair Trade and ethical working conditions an important consideration in our manufacturing and purchasing decisions,” says Khan.
In fact, Purple Impression is taking their push for transparency in fashion further than most ethical fashion brands by disclosing their chain of supply from start to finish. This ensures that consumers are made aware that all of their sneakers are environmentally friendly, made of breathable organic cotton uppers and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified rubber that’s sustainably harvested. They are also Fair Trade certified and PETA approved.
In terms of style, the sneakers are unisex and come in low or high top cuts. They’re designed to be worn and comfortable with every step – and when you are ready to part with them, they’re completely biodegradable. Choose from floral, feather or geometric embroidery designs, or if you prefer – wear them plain!
Be Part Of The Change
If you’d like to help Pakistani women out of poverty AND get some sweet swag, why not meet Purple Impression on their Kickstarter page? Pledge $39 or more and you get one of their organic cotton scarves in your colour choice, delivered anywhere in the world! If it’s the sneakers you’re interested in, a pledge of $65 or more will get you a pair – and you’ll be helping a wonderful brand succeed with a noble (and stylish!) mission!
For more information or to donate to this Kickstarter, please click here.
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