ARAK, More Than Just Fashion
ARAK is a menswear brand that operates beyond fashion, it is a social enterprise supporting underprivileged women and has been doing so since it was founded in 2018 by cousin duo Raneen & Abla Kawar. The brand name Arak, which translates to “I see you” in English, holds significance as it honors old traditions by drawing attention to a fading culture, namely, the Levantine's rich history in cross stitch embroidery.
Each ARAK garment narrates a wider story. They are handcrafted by talented women who come from all walks of life, each of which have a different story to tell. In an effort to support and empower the local community, the brand aims to preserve the human touch whilst creating unique pieces.
Their most recent collection titled “ILA AYN?”, which translates to “WHERE TO?” is inspired by the beauty of Jordan, where the founders are from. During COVID-19, the designers, Raneen and Abla, had to return back to Jordan by default and decided to explore the beauty of their country rather than sulk in the reality of the situation, only to find that their country has so much to offer.
The designs in this collection translate the beauty of the Jordanian landscape through embroidery. Traditional hand stitched embroidery was incorporated within the 4 main pillars of this collection: mountains, suns, waves and road. Each "ILA AYN?" piece narrates a different story; however they are all intertwined in the exploration of Jordan’s landscape.
“ZILZAL'' which translates to Earthquake in English is the most prominent design in the collection. "Zilzal reflects the emotional rollercoaster many had to endure during 2020, particularly representing when stress overcomes friction. The flat line in the design represents the foundation of humanity highlighting the undeniable unity people from all around the world shared during last year" they cousin-duo explain.
The juxtaposition of modern vs. traditional cross stitch embroidery is seen in several designs, namely, SHAMS, which translates to SUN, as well as RUM, which were inspired by Wadi Rum in Jordan. Both of these designs aimed to modernise the cross stitch technique, by going against the traditional grid being the foundation of the cross stitch technique. "To maintain the essence of cross stitch embroidery, we incorporated traditional middle eastern designs to the base of the sun."
The collection is tied in together with the "Sahrawi" design, which was inspired by the off-road highways across Jordan. "The three roads in this design highlight the paths that took us from one experience to the next, and that kept us going through the year, both physically and metaphorically."
The release of ARAK's rebranded collection titled, “ILA AYN?" includes a dynamic QR code that redirects customers to a page that presents the lifecycle of the garments.