A Peace Treaty: Ethical Fashion Spawned from a Jewish/Muslim Partnership

A Peace Treaty was founded in 2008 by Dana Arbib and Farah Malik to create ethically minded, artisan level fashion accessories and clothing for the luxury marketplace. I was so intrigued by their ideas and in love with their products, that I thought I would find out more . . .

1. How did A Peace Treaty come about?

Inspired by the hand-crafting cultures of the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and Africa, A PEACE TREATY was first conceived when Dana Arbib and Farah Malik met while living in Rome. The two discovered that they shared both a love of high fashion and a desire to increase awareness of ancient, disappearing crafting traditions from places typically seen only negatively through the media lens. Ultimately all of our designs are connected to our own traditions and heritage, and we draw inspiration from the places of our ancestry.

As a rare Jewish/Muslim partnership, Farah and Dana wanted to acknowledge the historical tension between their cultures as well as their commitment to bridging the gap in their own small way. And though there is an obvious political divide, APT’s aim isn’t solely to facilitate reparations through an unlikely business partnership, but also to highlight the many historical and aesthetic traditions that these cultures share. A Peace Treaty is a personal pact between two business partners, but we hope that ethos pervades every aspect of our business – from working with the artisans who create our collections to finding loving homes for each of our handcrafted pieces.

A Peace Treaty Necklace

2. Who is the A Peace Treaty customer?

Our customers are conscientious about what they consume across all categories – food, fashion, home goods, art, culture… They are not trend focused, but rather drawn to pieces they will treasure for years and years. They like to know the story behind the things they own – where they came from and who made them. They understand that “luxury” means something that is made by hand with love and care, regardless of the name on the label.

Nothing feels better to us than finding a loving home for one of our scarves or pieces of jewellery. When our customers are able to appreciate all that went into the making of each piece, we really feel the APT circle is completed.

3. What is your favourite piece in the current collection and why?

It is always hard to choose a favourite, but the VATURI scarf is one of the most personally meaningful pieces we’ve made. The print was inspired by the ceiling of The Great Synagogue of Rome (Tempio Maggiore di Roma) where Dana’s brother was married. The entire Spring 2013 collection was based upon her father’s upbringing in the Italian occupied Tripoli, and this synagogue holds significance to many Libyan Jews of that era.

4. I was interested to read your blog post on Nepal and maternal health. With the sad statistic that one woman dies every four hours in Nepal from pregnancy and childbirth related issues, can fashion actually make a difference?

YES! We are in the process of collaborating with a network of Dalit women’s cooperatives. Dalit women are of the most oppressed in Nepal, and truly of the world, since they have virtually no status in the country, leading to horrible health and human rights conditions, no economic mobility, and illiteracy. These cooperatives have, over the past few years, worked to foster education, health, women’s empowerment, and economic independence within small groups of about 20 women. Up until this point however, the collectives have not had a sustainable way of generating income and have been forced to rely on subsistence farming and often times unreliable husbands working abroad. When women are able to gain their own economic independence, they can afford enough food to feed the family, send their children to school, and pay for adequate healthcare. Little by little, the cycle of poverty is halted.

We are currently working to establish a traditional cashmere weaving co-operative, which would be fully owned and operated by members of the collective. The co-op provides a breadth of opportunities for women beyond a sustainable means of earning income, empowerment and skills sharing – it gives them elevated status within the larger Nepalese community. Furthermore, the global fashion audience garners an appreciation not only for the aesthetic of the product, but for the artisans behind it, bringing Dalit women into the public eye. Thus, fashion, when approached from an ethical standpoint, truly has the power to sustainably improve lives of marginalized communities.

A Peace Treaty Scarf

5. You’ve designed two scarf collections for Ralph Lauren, can you tell me about that collaboration.

Very soon after we launched, we received a call from the design team at Ralph Lauren asking us to come in for a meeting. After a successful collaboration with TOMs, they were looking for more socially conscience brands with which to partner. The collection that resulted was based upon their seasonal colour story, but the aesthetic had a decidedly APT feel. The pieces were inspired by regional tartan weaving and were hand-loomed by small family textile makers across 8 different villages and towns in Pakistan.

6. What does the rest of 2013 have in store for A Peace Treaty?

We are always looking to expand into new and different regions and to collaborate with brands and artists we love. We have always wanted to do projects in Africa and have been exploring different handcrafting cooperatives in Ghana and Nigeria. We are also hoping to include new accessory categories and potentially apparel. It’s going to be a big big year!

APT is available at Rtister

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