Two driven cousins on a mission to revive and preserve their rich heritage.
Not surprisingly, the concept of blending sustainability with tech has been on the rise within the MENA region. Curated Today is always keen on showcasing the disruptive change-makers behind this, which is why Contributing Editor, Saja El Mishri, interviewed the cousin duo, Abla and Raneen Kawar in Amman – cofounders of menswear brand ARAK Studio – about their unique and transparent approaches in creating their rebranded label.
Read below about how the power duo uses tools like QR labels to reduce the use of paper and their goals in empowering their community.
Creative Direction: ILNA Collective
About ARAK Studio
Arak, a social enterprise supporting underprivileged women, has been a success story in the MENA region since its inception in 2018. Arak is a modern resort wear label that transcends the realm of fashion. The brand preserves Levantine embroidery through its timeless and effortless pieces. We offer our customers traditional hand stitched embroidery using artisanal techniques on modern textiles and silhouettes to complement the modern society of today.
Each garment narrates a wider story. In an effort to support and empower the local community, each piece is handmade by artisanal women across Jordan. By doing so, the brand aims to preserve the human touch whilst creating unique pieces.
Arak’s high quality pieces are sustainable and friendly to the environment. By eliminating fast fashion trends, the brand aims to remain sustainable through its social impact, locally produced pieces as well as eco-friendly packaging.
“ARAK translates to ‘I see you’ in English and holds significance as it aims to draw attention to what we believe is a ‘fading culture.’ ARAK aims to preserve our Arab heritage by using artisanal skills and techniques in the production of our pieces,” Abla and Raneen said when asked the reason for their brand name.
The cousin duo also added how they were fascinated by tech and how they were brought up “in a family that valued sustainability and caring for the environment – which are the values we wanted to carry out at ARAK”.
Finding creative ways to make their clothing accessible is what inspired the power duo to “implement a woven QR code that is attached to each garment, as we realized how important transparency is and showcasing who made their garments for our customers is important to us”.
Being transparent about their business practices is important for ARAK studio and their customers. Also, the founders commented on the challenges of setting up their sustainable brand in Amman, Jordan.
“Launching a brand in Amman is without a doubt a difficult feat to achieve and it comes with its set of challenges ranging from sourcing, creating an income and gaining traction as well. For starters, finding resources is not as easy as ‘googling it’. We had to reach out to our networks, seek resources out for ourselves and take endless trips around the country to find what we needed.”
Sustainability is a journey, and it does have its challenges but as mentioned by Abla and Raneen, it can provide benefits as well. It is about recognising the modern challenges and finding creative ways to work around them.
Abla and Raneen also added how, “producing sustainable clothing in the Arab region is difficult. Our region lacks the correct resources to create garments easily and seamlessly. When asked about the lack of recognition for Arab based sustainable menswear, they responded, “the lack of awareness around sustainable clothing is limited, and we want to actively take the steps towards changing that.”
Adding on, “as a young brand, we are constantly learning and taking active steps in order to become more eco-conscious. We had to import biodegradable linen and organic cotton from Turkey,” commenting on the challenges of not having sustainable materials in Jordan.
The ARAK Studio concept of giving back to the Jordanian communities is at the heart of their design principles; the production is “locally based, and we seek local suppliers to work with whether they are larger businesses in the country or smaller vendors around Amman since part of the ARAK ethos is about female empowerment. All of our embroidery is hand-stitched by refugees and underprivileged artisanal women. We provide them with the opportunity to work, be financially independent and feel empowered.”
Keep an eye out for any upcoming launches for ARAK studio and their ambition to become “the leading menswear brand in the Middle East, piloting the movement in the sustainable fashion industry.”
"Our goal is to be the leading menswear brand in the Middle East, piloting the movement in the sustainable fashion industry."
About the Editor
Having grown up in Sweden and later moving to the UK, Saja is deeply motivated by emerging social and political concerns around sustainability. Saja currently works as a freelance writer and recently published articles at Eco-Age that explores if sustainability has become a westernized concept.
Saja is currently working as a freelance journalist writing about the intersection of sustainability, fashion and social justice and recently being selected for the FashMash Young Pioneers program, recognized to drive positive change in the industry.