Pakistani arts and crafts are valued all around the world. Be it the bright array of mirror work dresses of Baluchistan in the South West of Pakistan, or tire-rubber sole sandals that became all the rage in Europe, up to the unique colorful attire of Kailash valley in Northern Pakistan; but who can forget the beautiful range of Khussas (traditional embroidered ballet flats) that are a Punjabi specialty, from where the inspiration for Fuchsia footwear began! It all started when the team at Fuchsia decided to bring the traditional crafts of Pakistan to the western world. Fuchsia launched a Khussa ballet flat line for the American audience, which led to the team’s enlightening trip to Pakistan in search for a modified and comfortable product that will endure the urban demands of the American woman.
Co-founders Afshan Abbas and Hamad Khawaja’s trip to Pakistan was a quest to search local artisans that could help them create an improved version of the traditional footwear. This led them to major cities that produced this product like Lahore and Faisalbad; Having met many local shoe retailers and craftsmen that dealt with Khussa making and marketing, the duo ended up in the small town of Sangla that is the hub for Khussa-making in Pakistan. “This trip was eye opening to say the least; having visited many small workshops crowded with local artisans, we realized that there’s more to the simple oblong shape of the Khussa than what meets the eye” Abbas says of her experience.
Fuchsia Co-founders Afshan and Hamad in Sangla
After spending quite a bit of time in understanding the process of Khussa-making and meeting with shoe experts, the team was ready to take the Khussa venture globally with confidence! They went forward with two things in mind; taking the Khussa to the international market that would revive the dying art of handicrafts in Pakistan, in hopes to bring the colorful side of the country to the global forefront, and helping the local industry in maintaining its livelihood by financially supporting the local craftsman.
This quest led Fuchsia team to nearby towns of Okara, Khunda Mor and Multan that are host to small islands of talented craftsman and artisans that contribute to this industry, who are sadly struggling to keep up with the flood of mass-produced goods available in the local markets. The working conditions are sub-par and most craftsman move on to another manufacturer after having collected advance wages from the previous one, making it an inconsistent venture to keep alive.
After the reconnaissance in Lahore, Sangla and Multan, the team was determined to compensate these workers by making them realize the value of their skill. This is exactly what was hoped to achieve from this trip, to establish a ground in Punjab, for the manufacturing of the product so the local craftsman may benefit from it. The team made modifications in the design, combining the craftsmanship of the existing Khussa with a more sophisticated sole to make the comfortable must have for any wardrobe!
It took a thousand miles of walking in the mindset of the beautiful piece of art. The inspiration from Fuchsia that took a trip halfway across the globe came to a happy end back in Seattle, ready to present to the world, the beautiful Khussa that is fit for every occasion!