One thousand people. Enough to pack a good sized sports arena. That is how many people died when the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, and while some point the damning finger at the deplorable working conditions in developing countries, if you dig deeper, you realize the real culprit is “fast fashion.” Fast fashion is essentially a business model—it is the idea that to deliver the cheap, trendy clothing that first-world consumers demand, you circumvent labor laws in the developed world by exploiting cheap and unregulated labor in countries like Bangladesh. Well, two sisters, Afshan and Drakshan Khan, launched a company called Purple Impression that aims to undo this business model. We sat down with Afshan to learn more about their line and mission.
altMuslimah: Tell us how Purple Impression started and what makes it so unique?
We founded the company in 2013 as a modest fashion brand, but as we got more involved in the industry we saw its darker underbelly. Having lived in various countries around the world from Pakistan to Dubai to America, we witnessed firsthand the effects of fast fashion on factory workers and the planet—it results in the loss of traditional crafts, monetary exploitation from middlemen and second-hand clothing ending up in developing countries. Someone had to make a change. Why not us? We took the production of our line to our home town in Multan, Pakistan, a city rich in the culture of handmade embroidery, to not only provide an alternative to fast fashion, but also to preserve the dying art of handmade embroidery that the modern buyer demands.
altMuslimah: We love your company’s ethos. Can you elaborate on that?
Certainly. I would say the most important thing that we advocate is the “Trade not Aid” policy. In other words, we don’t want to give handouts, but rather we believe that we can lift people out of poverty by offering job opportunities and fair wages. For example, Purple Impression works with women artisans in Pakistan who embroider our designs out of their homes..
altMuslimah: Tell us about the Eco-Friendly Collection you just launched.
Sustainability is also a big part of our ethos. It’s not easy, but we try to use as much recycled fabric as possible, we insist on hand cutting our designs to minimize wasted fabric (whatever is left over, we try to use in creative embroidery patterns) and we pack our apparel in recycled materials. We have spent the last three years building our supply chain to make sure we are able to provide our clients with the best in sustainable and ethical fashion.
The New Collection is inspired by Islamic Architecture. We have taken elements from the Cordoba Mosque in Spain and had our artisans embroider those designs by hand onto the pieces in this line. One of the most collaborative pieces in this collection is the “Nomad Tee.” We worked with a local designer based in San Francisco who brings her 20 years of experience from Levi’s, an Iranian calligrapher and our artisans in Multan to create this tee. Hubb, Wahda, Sallam (Love, Unity and Peace) is the message of the tee. And of course this and every other item in this collection is available for pre-order on our website.
altMuslimah: Tell us about the type of women your company represents?
We see our “Impressionis-ta” as a fashion savvy, conscientious individual who is well travelled and well informed. She cares about the environment, understands her buying power and wants to make a difference in the world. She leads a meaningful and purposeful life with high ethics and values.
Our designs modest, comfortable, versatile and made with all body types and sizes in mind. If you want to wear “slow fashion,” then you want to invest in pieces you can transition in throughout your day, whether it be taking the kids to school or walking into the office. With our designs, you wouldn’t have to worry about a wardrobe change.
You can read more about Purple Impression and shop for their apparel at www.purpleimpression.com
Zehra Rizavi is the Managing Editor at altMuslimah.