Popinjay: The Luxury of Artisanal Sustainability

16 Feb 2014 - SLT


One of our favourite things to see here at Sur la Terre Arabia is when luxury transcends the facade of itself to reveal a depth of heart and soul strangely not immediately associated with finery. 

As The Bard himself once penned, “All that glitters is not gold,” and while the intended meaning of that line may be different from how it is applied here, it remains true that there are some things more precious than the stones and paper we so meticulously hoard. One such luxury is the artisanal sustainability championed by companies like the new, for-profit luxury Pakistani fashion brand, Popinjay.

As recently reported by Al Jazeera English, Popinjay is the brainchild of 31-year-old entrepreneur, Saba Gul, who has been developing the brand’s unique business model for the past three years, beginning first in a similar, smaller venture called Bliss. What has evolved out of a firm desire to help educate, employ and fairly compensate her fellow countrywomen is Popinjay, a start-up company dedicated to exporting the intricate, hand-embroidered and frankly beautiful fashion accessories to high-end western markets, with a solid chunk of the profits returning to those craftswomen responsible for their production, and then thereby to their respective communities.
What this specifically-targeted, for-profit model does in real terms is provide each of Popinjay’s 150 artisans with around $20 to $40 for each product they create, which may take up to a month each to finish. That may seem a low cut to a western audience, but the part-time craftsmanship provided by each employee allows her a potential total household income boost of up to 60 percent. As Al Jazeera points out in its report, that becomes an important statistic in a country where the female labour participation rate hovers somewhere just above 15 percent.
One quick scan through the Popinjay website (some photos of which we have provided above) is enough to show how stunning the entire collection truly is, and we think our readers will agree that, based on their production quality and arresting aesthetic alone, the asking price of anywhere between $100 to $500 is more than worth it. 

Add to that the fact that you will simultaneously be contributing to the ether of global sustainability through luxury, and giving your custom to companies like Pakistan’s Popinjay is a decision made of both style and substance.

For more about Popinjay, please check out the original Al Jazeera piece that inspired this post in its entirety, as well as the Popinjay website, the links to which you can find both embedded above and here below:

Popinjay Website

Al Jazeera Article

[Photo Credits: Al Jazeera and Popinjay.co, all rights reserved]