BY Nabila Pathan
From New York Fashion Week to Playboy, the growth of the modest fashion industry is generating widespread interest and fashion label Purple Impression is riding the wave with its fusion of modest designs and ethical fashion practices.
Headed by a sister duo Afshan Khan and Drakshan Khan, Purple Impression was listed this year as one of 35 ethical and fair trade brands in the West by Good Trade Magazine, and has since been creating a stir amongst the modest fashion industry.
The ethical clothing brand attempts to preserve the traditional art of hand embroidery from Multan in Pakistan whilst ensuring fair wages and employment for the women involved. It also promises sustainability by using eco fabrics and zero waste manufacturing techniques.
Their latest collection, designed with minimalism in mind and inspired by Islamic architecture, makes use of ecofriendly fabric and hand embroidered geometric patterns.
The designing and patterning process takes place in California. The work of their Bay Area designers is fused with the traditional hand embroidery of their artisans from Pakistan to make meaningful pieces with integrity and a strong message.
“Our hope is that this will allow people to have a cross cultural experience and foster an environment for healthy conversations. Essentially [we are] using clothing as a canvas to say that we are from different places but we want to come together and we want to work together with love and peace and we want to create purposeful things together,” Afshan told Al Arabiya English.
With Islamophobic sentiments reportedly on the rise in the US, apparently propelled by popularity of Trump in the presidential elections, the sisters are mindful of the brand playing a role in countering communal discord.
Speaking to Al Arabiya English, Afshan notes how their latest collection is an example of this.
“We have brought together the art and design of three different artists (calligrapher, designer and embroiderers) from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds to create a universal message of love, peace and unity – the very words calligraphed on our Nomad Tee.”
Since launching in 2013, Purple Impression has entered the competitive global modest fashion market, which is estimated to be worth over 100 billion dollars. Remarking about the growth, Afshan states:
“There is definitely a shift in the overall industry towards designs that cater to women looking for modest clothing. We’ve seen big fast fashion retailers as well as high fashion brands create collections that aim to serve this growing demand, which undoubtedly will further grow. But, we also feel that modesty goes beyond clothing that adhere to religious guidelines of what is permissible to also include the ethical aspect of it … coming from good sources.”
Being involved with many philanthropic projects, applying their experiences from working in human resource management to non-profits and a passion for women’s development has led to a collective vision by the sisters for meaningful fashion that benefits those making it, as Afshan explains:
“One of our core values is concern and respect for the environment, so, to start off, we only work with natural fabric that is bio degradable or other environmentally friendly fabrics that are either recycled or sustainable.
“Next, our designers try to design outfits that utilize the entire fabric. After which we use hand cutting techniques that produce zero to minimal waste. Additionally, different hand embroidery techniques are used to utilize any remnants back in the design. Our artisan then bring the garment to life with their skills of hand embroidery working out of their homes. The garments are then taken to our production facility where they are ethically completed, one garment at a time.”