There’s a new brand in town! Buckle & Seam is designed in Berlin but made in Pakistan and if you’ve seen the trendy bags online (on Instagram in particular), then you’d be interested to know how this collaboration happened.
This incredible story belongs to three foreigners – Georg Wolff, Marco Feelisch and Jena Bautmans – who came to Pakistan while working with Rocket Internet and ended up staying back longer than they intended to, managing to take more from the experience then they could have imagined.
“We found Pakistan to be more westernized than we had imagined,” said Jena as we got together when this exciting project was in development stages. She explained how the trio had been hired by Rocket Internet to work for Daraz.pk. “The younger generation evidently strives to make things better and that is encouraging,” she continued. “During our stay in Karachi, we came across many young entrepreneurs who wanted to make their city better. Whether it’s a cool new restaurant or a place to hang out, everyone is in their own capacity trying to make things better. Compared to Bangladesh (where she was previously working on a project) we found Pakistan to be professionally better. There are more resources here.”
Jena, Georg and Marco worked on Daraz.pk’s first online fashion show (while getting several modeling offers!), an assignment that kept them in the city for around a year. You’d think that three tall, blond and young foreigners (who cannot blend in) would feel a spot of insecurity in what is termed is a highly dangerous city but this couldn’t have been further from the truth. The three were constantly cabbing it, traveling to and from far-flung areas beyond Korangi and in their days off they even traveled up north. They probably explored more of Pakistan than the average burger-bacha does in a lifetime!
This comfort level helped them achieve the next task, which probably helped in opening a window of opportunity that led to the creation of Buckle & Seam. “We were looking for good leather bags and couldn’t find the perfect bag because branded leather bags are usually unaffordable.” Georg weighed in, “We met some guys who said ‘we can make the bag for you.’ So we produced the bag and showed it to everyone at work and got really good feedback. It became quite the conversation starter.”
And that is how Buckle & Seams came into existence. All three of them then quit their jobs and decided to start their own business. Currently the brand has a designer in Berlin, which explains the international flair and finesse that the bags have. Design is what local leather brands have historically struggled with and where Buckle & Seams has an edge. ‘Manufactured in Pakistan’ helps keep the cost down.
The brand operates on a slightly different formula that allows them to keep their prices extremely affordable. “We are directly in contact with out manufacturers so that cuts out a lot of people in the supply chain. This helps us keeping the cost low.” Currently, the brand is offering free shipping to its customers, another advantage that buyers take into consideration when engaging in online shopping.
Marco is quick to explain how e-commerce is changing the way people shop now. “Pakistan is the perfect market for e-commerce because everyone is on their phones and is online.”
The three ambitious and dedicated entrepreneurs didn’t just start a business; they took their commitment a notch further and put their efforts in a CSR program.
“We are interested in two areas where we want to contribute,” explained Jena. “We first want to take care of the environmental issues and make sure that our production does not contribute to pollution.” Currently, the brand is only using vegetable tan leather, which is an eco-friendly option as it uses fewer chemicals and is chromium fee. Also, this form of cow leather is bio-degradable, which is perhaps one of the most important advantages the brand has. It’s a time-consuming process and an infinitely more responsible route to take.
“The second area of our interest is education,” informed Jena and that is the thought behind their Girls Education Program. B&S has tied up with a local school, called Anum School, and has decided to contribute a percentage of their revenue to help educate young girls.
Sourcing in Pakistan is a widespread practice among international brands. Having lived and worked there for a year, we feel bonded with this country that is full of talents and beautiful craftsmanship, but also of challenges. By shopping with Buckle & Seam, you help changing a girl’s life by sending her to school and empowering her through direct access to literacy and thus opportunities – Buckle & Seam
While the brand operates online, the team is looking into officially launching B&S in Pakistan next year, which probably means that we will be seeing Jena, Georg and Marco in Karachi every now and then. And if work doesn’t bring them back then their growing affinity with the city definitely will!
(The full collection is available on their official website: http://www.buckleandseam.com/)