According to Qurat Ul Ain, the main purpose of this venture was to introduce a high-end line of locally manufactured shoes and bags that were all hand-made. She emphasized on the hand-made part, and enunciated that local craftsmen and artisans have enormous talent that is either underutilized or exploited. The only two areas where these talented craftsmen are appreciated are the textile and clothing industries. Her aim was to give these local craftsmen their due monetary compensation and autonomy, and celebrate their work in the shoe manufacturing industry. In this way, CHAPTER 13 also wished to break the monopoly of cheap imported shoes and bags from Thailand and China, and get the Pakistani public interested in their own nation’s produce, which is traditional, yet highly trendy.
The theme-based work has become a revolutionary idea in the local shoe industry, where all the products – Sandals, Chappals, Loafers, Flats, Khussas, Kohatis, Peshawaris and Slip-ons have been contemporized. The very first theme introduced by the Ansaris was called “Reviving Truck Art”, where jewelry, jewelry boxes, shoes, bags and photo frames were made with meticulous detail. Following the success of this theme, the sisters launched their next theme called “World Military”, which paid tribute to army personnel and incorporated their badges and tokens into shoes and bags. “Soothing hues of the Victorian Era” was highly appreciated by customers, where mellow colors and designs were chosen to emulate the high-brow English lifestyle in a more traditional and local setup.
After celebrating “sayeen” culture (with moustache symbols) and Eid’s “Baroque” collection (which included intricate and ornate patterns and designs and gave customers a feeling of sophistication, royalty and regality), CHAPTER 13 is back with their new theme for the summer, titled “Ghulaab Diaries”. It includes all forms of shoes with bright floral patterns that can be worn at formal as well as informal occasions.
CHAPTER 13, which started with a single social media page less than two years ago, now holds various exhibitions in Lahore, and has developed a multitude of loyal customers. Its products are available in Lahore, Islamabad and the United Kingdom. Both the sisters work on their shoes and bags with their own hands, complete the sticker work (which is a long and arduous task), and finally send it to the workshops for folding, sole fitting and finishing. The leather is pure and fully foam-padded. “People always appreciate the hard work and treat our shoes as pieces of art”, remarks Qurat Ul Ain. She hopes to take this venture to the next step, where CHAPTER 13 will have its stand-alone store, and people will learn to appreciate the preservation of Pakistan’s cultural heritage, at least in the fashion industry. “We give it our best, and we make them with our hands and with our love. How can they not be of the finest quality and finest craftsmanship?” laugh the Ansari sisters at the end of the interview.
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