A PEACE TREATY was born from a shared desire for peace in the Middle East, a keen interest in design and a passion for supporting dwindling artisanal industries, in developing countries suffering the consequences of socio-political conflict.
Farah also tells us about the new collection for S/S13, what inspires their designs, who her favourite designers are, why she loves London and how to spend 24 hours in New York City.
Akeela (HA): Have you experienced any particular challenges when trying to follow an ethical design philosophy? How long did it take to set up the label and what has been the hardest part?
Farah: It actually did not take that long – we had a hugely supportive group of friends and I was always very interested in start up and social entrepreneurship culture so I self – taught myself from listening to business programs on BBC radio and reading a lot. The hardest part was scaling up seeing that we don’t work with factories – small batch producing workshops could only produce so much volume. This is why we have started rotating between multiple workshops that work with the same kinds of techniques.
Akeela (HA): Describe your new collection
Farah: A PEACE TREATY’s S/S 2013 VILLA BAMBOLA collection reflects upon 1960’s Libya, when Italian influence decorated traditional expressions of art and architecture, such as minarets and painted tiles, with mosaics, arches, and frescos. VILLA BAMBOLA was inspired by the period’s joie-de-vivre. This collection depicts a calm and beautiful time in Tripoli. VILLA BAMBOLA is both a historical documentation of this era and a call for peace in the future.
The jewelry of VILLA BAMBOLA features colors inspired by traditional Libyan glasswork. These colors are revealed through the use of semi-precious stones such as opaline, amazonite, lapis, onyx, and amethyst. Freewheeling fringes and symbols including the hamsa and palm frond decorate this collection. Latticed metal carvings refer to the ancient silver-smithing designs that are commonly found in medallions, platters, and pendants. Desert artisan families, using centuries-old sustainable techniques and traditions, handcraft each piece.
Akeela (HA): What is your favourite piece in the new collection?
Farah: From the S/S VILLA BAMBOLA collection, I really love the Sidra gold ring set.
Akeela (HA): Which is your favourite collection so far?
Farah: I love SAFAR and NETERET. I also love one of our classic collections that was knocked off by other brands a lot actually, KILIM. It was a silk scarf collection that was produced in partnership with this last remaining silk wood-block printing workshop in Pakistan. We set up training for street kids (16 years or above in age) from the slums to revitalize this dying art form. The workshop now has expanded six-fold and is supplying a lot of the local boutiques as well as having a thriving export business.
Akeela (HA): Which is your favourite fashion city and why?
Farah: London! There is so much DIY and youth subcultural history embedded in London’s fashion. Fashion was always consumed there as a form of rebellion or identity marking/formation. It was not just pure consumption and following of trends. I’ve really always been driven by that – to this day you see the roots of it all in girls’ and guys ‘ get ups – a nod to Punk history on the King’s Road or nods to nineties youth culture in the West and East ends. London is a constant breath of fresh air – there is so much originality! There also aren’t as many “fashion victims” as in New York! And London is the birth place of some of the meccas of shopping that have formed a lot of girl’s identities; Hello TOPSHOP!!
Akeela (HA): You spent a considerable time in London – can you tell us the things you like most about the Big Smoke?
Farah: I love the village-y feeling. There is such a definitive energy associated with all the neighborhoods. If I’m in the mood for a bit more elegance and luxury – the West End or Notting Hill/ Westbourne Grove are fitting. If I want a more Bohemian kind of afternoon, then lounging at the Broadway Market or Columbia Road Flower Market as well as various parts of Dalston or the Brick Lane/Whitechapel area deliver on that. If I want good ethnic cuisine and an escape from “England”, then Brixton or Bayswater will satiate that desire. I also love Hampstead Heath!!
All these places never get tired or old – there is constant rejuvenation because of how many International people are perpetually coming in and out, bringing new flavours, ideas and vitality. London is a true cosmopolitan city, whereas New York sometimes feels merely metropolitan.
Akeela (HA): Do you have plans to, or would you like to collaborate with other brands or designers?
Farah: We’ve collaborated with Rugby Ralph Lauren – our collections for them were all made in their brand colors by traditional cloth and tartan weavers in different villages across Pakistan. I travelled to 8 towns and villages (including the cradle of the oldest civilisation around the Indus Valley) and found these families who had stopped weaving because there was no demand for their cloth. Each region had different types of weaving patterns specific to their traditions. RL approached us to do a special collection after their initiative to carry socially conscious accessories lines launched with Toms shoes. The APT for Rugby Ralph Lauren collections spanned two seasons and were the highest selling accessory in all the national Rugby stores.
We’ve also collaborated with Jonathan Simkhai and Lucio Castro. We love collaborations so we are constantly exploring avenues for cross-fertilisation. We’ll definitely make announcements when future collaborations are firmed up ;)!
Akeela (HA): Are there any designers and brands, both domestically and internationally that you particularly admire? Who are your favourite designers?
Farah: We love Celine, YSL, Missoni, Chanel, Duro Olowu, Kenzo.
Akeela (HA): How would you describe your personal style?
Farah: Eclectic and global. Sometimes we joke that we are bordering on kooky art teacher styles! I love the disco era – Halston represents this really well.
Akeela (HA): What/who influences your everyday fashion choices?
Farah: Comfort foremost and the era of inspiration or design direction/concept that might be influencing the next collection’s designs. I think this affects the whole office. For instance we had a gaucho-inspired concept mixed with Moroccan and Berber women’s blanket weaving moment happening in the office last year. And all of a sudden we all started showing up to work looking a little like Argentinian horse-riding heiresses! We also were influenced by the research we were doing on Venice Beach for our Jonathan Simkhai Locals’ Only collection.
Akeela (HA): Is there a trend that you cannot abide?
Akeela (HA): What is your favourite fashion accessory?
Farah: A scarf!
Akeela (HA): How would you describe the woman who wears A Peace Treaty?
Farah: She is like us – cultured, well travelled and with a very global sense of style. We typically wear vintage pieces mixed with heirlooms from our mothers or family mixed in with a bit of shopping from Paris and a bit from New York.
Akeela (HA): Do you have a fashion muse?
Farah: We look to our mom’s old pictures from the 70’s and 80’s – they are the ultimate in terms of global nomadic style.
Akeela (HA): Which celebrity would you love to see wearing A Peace Treaty?
Farah: Someone in politics yet who is relevant to the women of the world – Michele Obama!
Akeela (HA): What do you do to relax?
Farah: Yoga – Moksha yoga in particular. This form of yoga found in Canada has now also been brought to New York by fellow Montrealers (and Arcade Fire fame singer) and McGill University classmates.
I also love to cook with market fresh ingredients. The colors of seasonal produce are so pampering for the eyes.
Akeela (HA): What is your favourite holiday destination?
Farah: This changes every year but currently – Zanzibar. You can’t beat that kind of history in an Indian Ocean setting.
Akeela (HA): 24 hours in NYC – what would you recommend?
- Check in at the Ace Hotel or at Nomad Hotel. Take in the shopping immediately surrounding you in the hotels – Opening Ceremony is there and Kitsune is a block down (adjacent to the Nomad Hotel). Have dinner at Comodo – a darling little place that transports you to Colombia or Brazil –it’s also run by friends so feels like home!
- Morning coffee and pastry at Café Colombe in Soho.
- Spend the morning strolling the streets of Soho for ground-level people watching and artistic inspiration. My favorites are Wooster, Greene and Howard.
- Stop at Café Gitane for a mid afternoon Moroccan mint tea.
- Lunch at Ruby’s in NOLITA– the best quick burgers and a cute little Australia in NYC scene.
- Dash across to Chelsea to take in some of the Chelsea galleries – Pace Wildenstein, Gagosian and Gladstone are some of my favorite.
- Walk the Highline.
- Catch some more art! There are always great exhibitions at the Whitney Museum or PS1 – two of my favorite modern art museums in spaces that are understated and not overwhelming or pretentious.
- Take in a dance or music show at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in the historic neighborhood of Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
- Bolt across to Williamsburg and have dinner at Diner – a classic with a daily changing menu. Alternately, Vinegar Hill House, a few minutes cab ride away from the BAM offers an exquisite and comforting farm to table kind of menu.
Akeela (HA): What’s the future of ethical and sustainable fashion?
Farah: Well it has a bright future but with everyone jumping on the bandwagon and for marketing purposes there has to be a very clear effort on the part of the consumer to know how to read between the lines and see through the marketing and verbiage – not all “Consumer Activism” (i.e. buy this T-shirt and we’ll donate 10% of the proceeds) kind of messaging is really creating any actual change in the lives of the workers and producers that make the things we wear. Often even while the consumer feels his or her purchase is giving back – there’s still someone somewhere who may very well have been abused, in the process of making that garment or item.
Akeela (HA): What’s next for A Peace Treaty?
Farah: We’re constantly prototyping other accessories with artisans; for instance we have some adorable mini leather suitcases we’ve made and some basket woven clutches that were sampled with weavers cooperatives in Rwanda and Ghana. Home design and home textiles also inspire us, so we’re definitely exploring expansion into that arena.
Akeela (HA): Where can we buy designs by A Peace Treaty?
Akeela (HA): Where would you love to see A Peace Treaty stocked?
Farah: We’d love to sell at Dover Street Market in London, Merci in Paris and Five Story in NY.
Many thanks to Farah Malik of A PEACE TREATY for talking to Haute Arabia
Feature Editor: Akeela Bhattay
For pictures of her collection, please visit