The juttis (shoes) are a 21st-century reimagining of a 400-year-old craft from Punjab, comprising recycled cotton, micro velvet, embroidered and featherweight leather pieces.
Mitchelle D’Souza, Sub-editor/Reporter
US-based fashion designer Ammar Belal is a name to reckon with in his home country Pakistan, having won national design awards such as “Best Emerging Talent” and “Best Menswear” for his namesake label.
After spending his formative years between the cities of Boston, Geneva and Lahore, and firmly etching his name in the fashion annals, the celebrated designer embarked on a new challenge.
The Professor of Fashion at Parsons School of Design, New York City, stepped outside his corporate comfort zone and re-evaluated a personal identity focused on community.
This resulted in the birth of the venture ONE432, which retails traditional, handmade juttis (shoes) for men and women, manufactured by skilled artisans in Pakistan.
Their juttis are a 21st-century reimagining of a 400-year-old craft from Punjab; a hand-sewn, fully symmetrical shoe with “no left and no right” that adapts to the unique shape of every foot.
After three years of organically building an artisan community and responsibly sourcing materials, the ONE432 online store went live in 2018.
Established by Belal in partnership with Faisal Khan and Umar Belal, the brand shares 50 per cent of the net profits from each unit sold with its female artisans and sponsors children’s education in Pakistan.
Speaking about the germination of his brand, Ammar elucidated, “My vision was to revive the 400-year-old craftsmanship of handmade juttis and bring it back into mainstream fashion, which would be ethical and sustainable.
“The whole process took around three years to fully develop and take form and now we handloom and weave our own textile from creatively upcycling, reusing and sourcing waste materials.
“This has translated into a core strength in our lean manufacturing system.”
ONE432 is an "Equal Share" design philosophy that embodies an unprecedented standard of equality, transparency and responsibility within the fashion industry.
The concept was born out of Ammar Belal’s graduate thesis collection at Parsons, which debuted at New York Fashion Week in the year 2014.
As per the unique model, each shoe sold sponsors a child’s primary education in three different schools in Pakistan.
In order to remain transparent and socially responsible, the company designed a custom-built Donations Tracker in 2017, which enables buyers to track every dollar spent on the juttis.
The online tracking system matches every dollar earned with a dollar donated in real time for every transaction.
Further cementing itself as a socially responsible brand, ONE432 employs a majority female workforce, empowering women to earn a living and a unique identity.
“In a traditionally male dominated global cobbling industry, we are extremely proud of our majority female workforce that has been trained from scratch through our in-house programme,” voiced Ammar.
ONE432 consists of an eclectic mix of juttis, ranging from recycled cotton juttis (Dhs422) to micro velvet and featherweight leather collections (Dhs569 approx.).
Their exquisite hand embroidered styles range from Dhs790 to Dhs1,377, depending on the intricacy and quantity of the beading.
Those who would like a more personal touch, can get their initials custom monogrammed in silk thread or metal on the juttis at an up charge starting at Dhs110.
This year will see the brand unveil two completely new silhouettes to their existing classic loafers.
While UAE customers can purchase juttis from the label online, plans are afoot to have pop up exhibitions in Dubai. The owners of ONE432 are also engaged in talks with independent UAE boutiques for exclusive collaborations and capsule collections.
On why Dubai is the next big destination for ONE432, Ammar opined: “Dubai, along with being a melting pot of diverse cultures, also sits between our artisan and impact hub in Pakistan and our initial market in the US.
“It is quickly embracing several sustainable practices and has a vibrant South Asian diaspora.
“Moreover, the Middle Eastern Luxury consumer has a distinct vocabulary of many traditional versions of a symmetrical slipper in its classical form.
“We feel that our modern interpretation of this widely celebrated design would resonate extremely strongly within this culture.”If you wish to purchase their sustainably produced juttis and help a good cause, ONE432 is available online at www.one432.com
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