GOOD 100: Meet Dana Arbib, Bringing Human Rights to High Fashion

Dana Arbib is the co-founder of A Peace Treaty, an accessories line that highlights underappreciated handcrafting cultures in unstable regions around the world. Founded in 2008 as a personal pact between Arbib, a Libyan Jew, and Farah Malik, a Pakistani Muslim, APT strives to create employment opportunities for small businesses and families that have been out of work because of the political tensions and social unrest in their countries or communities.

A Peace Treaty’s mission is to elevate ancient handmade textile and metal-smithing techniques, along with homegrown craftsmanship, to the status of high-end boutique level goods, and in the process, pay artisans well above fair trade rates.
“We are trying to bit-by-bit trickle some of these concepts into the rigidly structured, and often inhumane, fashion industry,” Arbib says. “I really wanted to bring human rights into high fashion.”
Pairing Arbib's background in design with Malik's background in international development and human rights, each season the two travel to a particular region to seek out local artisans and NGOs. On the ground they resuscitate family businesses and workshops that practice handicrafting techniques that are at risk of dying out. A Peace Treaty has now worked in nine countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Ecuador, Turkey, Peru, Bolivia and America.
A Peace Treaty treats each collaboration with local partners as a 3-4 year intervention until the artisan projects are bolstered enough to work independently. Ultimately, the company's aim is to connect the groups to the global market and make their highly specialized skills relevant beyond their local economy.
“A lot of our projects provide work for disabled or widowed women and enable them to rebuild their lives,” Arbib says. “I really believe in bringing products to market that have a story attached to them, so people know where their clothes come from and who produced them.”

Arbib also aims to bring production back to the U.S. to affect jobs and hand made techniques that are dying out due to cheap factory production overseas. APT did a small project in Colorado employing a family-run business to hand paint silk scarves, but Arbib says she hopes to do more on the North American continent this year.
To tackle this goal, she will be collaborating with artist and friend Jeffrey Gibson on a special collection of textiles and jewelry. Gibson, a renowned painter and sculptor, a TED Foundation Fellow, and a member of The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, will help Arbib to merge aspects of his Cherokee culture with her design aesthetic.
The collection will be released in Spring 2014, in stores and online on A Peace Treaty’s website.
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