The COVID-19 outbreak’s biggest consequence is the unfortunate shutdown of many business ventures worldwide. The fashion industry is amongst few that received a hard blow because luxury and apparel were least of peoples’ concerns while fighting a pandemic. However, the crisis also helped many fashion houses realize that a more sustainable and systematic approach is needed in the industry.
Fortunately, our very own fashion export Ammar Belal realized the need of a social enterprise long ago and hence he created his fashion brand One432, setting an unprecedented standard of equality, transparency and responsibility within the fashion industry. His enterprise recently got featured in Vogue Business as a unique profit share model that offers important learnings for luxury productions that are socially responsible, ethical and versatile.
Ammar shared the news on his Facebook as he wrote, “When months of panic, hope, resilience and gratitude get celebrated! ONE432 is in Vogue Business today!”
Ammar Belal is a renowned name in Pakistani fashion circles, however after having a successful run at the retail industry, Ammar opted out for a life beyond a corporate empire and focused on community building. Hence came the idea of One432. Unlike other social impact brands that donate, ONE432 shares 50% of the actual net profits from each unit sold, with its female artisans as well as a guaranteed living wage and sponsors a child’s education in Pakistan.
Before the pandemic, the brand specialized in traditional leather footwear known as juttis. The company realized that change was inevitable when sales plunged in March as a lockdown spread worldwide. Talking to Vogue Business, Ammar expressed how they explored new avenues in these tough times:
â€œOur cobblers and hand embroiders are used to making shoes but they quickly learned how to sew T-shirts and hoodies, working from home or socially distancing in our studio. That ended up saving our business.”
Vogue’s report concluded that business models that are driven by ethical practices rather than profits are the need of the hour. These independent productions have the power to bring socio-economic change through responsible manufacturing as their business plan uplifts artisans through above-average wages, good working conditions, job security and mutual respect. These enterprises value artisans and their unique craftsmanship.
“If we do well, the artisans do well with us, thatâ€™s where elevation starts,â€ Belal said adding, â€œWhen HermÃ¨s or Marc Jacobs work with an artist in Brooklyn or Tokyo, they treat that artist as an equal. Thereâ€™s decent money and collaboration involved. But in Pakistan or Morocco, artists are treated as artisans while making cents.â€