Global fash­ion, lo­cal conscience.

A Peace Treaty de­signs ac­ces­sories with a greater pur­pose.

Elle (Canada) - - News - By Liz Gu­ber

With six pass­ports be­tween them, Farah Ma­lik and Dana Ar­bib are true global cit­i­zens. Although they grew up in dif­fer­ent cul­tures—Ma­lik is a Pak­istani Mus­lim and Ar­bib is a Libyan Jew—the de­sign­ers be­hind the ac­ces­sories brand A Peace Treaty have sim­i­lar back­sto­ries: Both im­mi­grated to Canada with their fam­i­lies when they were chil­dren. They’ve also both lived in var­i­ous parts of Europe and the Mid­dle East. And now, they both count Man­hat­tan as their home base—from which they travel the globe in search of in­spi­ra­tion and skilled ar­ti­sans to help cre­ate their luxe line of jew­ellery, scarves and caf­tans.

The pair first met at Ar­bib’s brother’s wed­ding in Rome in 2007. A year later,

they re­con­nected in Man­hat­tan, where Ar­bib was a free­lance de­signer and Ma­lik worked in in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment. They de­cided to cre­ate a brand that’s loaded with mean­ing: “We make beau­ti­ful things that tran­scend a lot of po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sion,” says Ar­bib.

In the past six years, the pair has worked with more than 350 ar­ti­sans— from camel-bone carvers near In­dia’s Thar Desert to cash­mere weavers in the Hi­malayan foothills—many of whom are wid­owed or dis­abled women. “I want to use the power of fash­ion to con­nect tra­di­tional ar­ti­sans with the global econ­omy,” says Ma­lik. “There are so many beau­ti­ful things be­ing made by the most tal­ented peo­ple in the midst of con­flict and in­sta­bil­ity.”

In ad­di­tion to em­ploy­ing ar­ti­sans to cre­ate prod­ucts for their own line, Ma­lik and Ar­bib also en­cour­age them to mar­ket their skills for other com­mer­cial pur­suits. The duo has helped fam­i­lies and groups set up their own busi­nesses and co-ops, of­ten in­vest­ing in weav­ing looms, sewing ma­chines and jew­ellery-mak­ing tools to help them get started. “We pay a dig­ni­fied liv­ing wage, and we don’t work with any fac­to­ries, so it means there is no mid­dle­man to eat into the prof­its,” says Ma­lik.

In 2010, they part­nered with Afghan Hands, a non-profit that teaches women em­broi­dery skills so they can earn an in­come and be­come self-suf­fi­cient. Work­ing with the group, they cre­ated 26 scarf de­signs in­spired by Afghan iconog­ra­phy for A Peace Treaty’s Sozan Doz col­lec­tion. The Afghan women who worked on the in­tri­cate hand-em­broi­dered scarf de­signs—which in­cluded each woman’s name and a piece of her own burqa— set their own wages, earn­ing $75 to $90 per scarf, which re­tailed for around $300 each.

How­ever, the lo­gis­tics of work­ing in Afghanistan turned out to be a chal­lenge for the then fledg­ling company, and the col­lec­tion ul­ti­mately wasn’t prof­itable. Beyond ex­pected costs, like ar­rang­ing air­lifts for ev­ery­thing from nee­dles to thread, were big­ger fi­nan­cial hits—one of their first com­pleted ship­ments got blown up at the bor­der. “There is a ma­jor level of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions that we are al­ways try­ing to fig­ure out,” says Ma­lik, who, as a Pak­istani, can­not en­ter In­dia, where all of the brand’s jew­ellery is pro­duced. “Some­times we joke that our company name can also stand for how we are con­stantly try­ing to fight against bor­der re­stric­tions.” Still, Ar­bib and Ma­lik in­tend to work with ar­ti­sans in Afghanistan again.

For the brand’s re­cent Villa Bam­bola col­lec­tion of scarves— which were block- printed by ar­ti­sans in Jaipur, screen-printed in Mumbai and in­digo­mud- printed in Delhi— Ar­bib took in­spi­ra­tion from her Libyan her­itage. She met with 50 Libyan Jews to look through their pho­tos, and she spent hours in a li­brary in Rome re­search­ing the ar­chi­tec­ture of Tripoli’s lost mosques and syn­a­gogues. The re­sult­ing print­ed­lat­tice and mo­saic mo­tifs “re­flect a time of re­li­gious har­mony,” she says.

Next up for the pair is a trip to Peru to work on their fall/win­ter 2015 col­lec­tion—this will be their fourth year part­ner­ing with Peru­vian al­paca farm­ers. “Each year we’ve worked with them, the out­put dou­bles, and that means bring­ing in more ar­ti­sans who are be­ing trained to do knit­ting and weav­ing,” says Ma­lik. “We think this is a more thought­ful way of de­sign­ing and pro­duc­ing, which re­sults in much more ex­quis­ite prod­ucts.” ■

SPRING FOR­WARD A Peace Treaty’s new Suwa col­lec­tion is in­spired by North African war­riors and the savannah. The jew­ellery fea­tures sus­tain­ably sourced buf­falo bone from Kenya and was crafted by Jaipur-based ar­ti­sans; the scarves and caf­tans were made by Bangladeshi ar­ti­sans (from $112 to $918, at apeace­treaty.com and Holt Ren­frew, holtren­frew.com).

Farah Ma­lik meets with sup­pli­ers in Tan­gail, Bangladesh (op­po­site page); a Bangladeshi ar­ti­san spins yarn on a spin­dle to make A Peace Treaty prod­ucts.

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