In March 2021 Østerland started the production of waistcoats in Kabul, Afghanistan. The intention was to bring beautiful design to the global market, while supporting and celebrating Afghan artisans, whose livelihood are reliant on their craft. What Østerland did not know was the tumultuous journey those waistcoats would have to endure, before arriving in Veksø, Denmark, nearly nine months later.
Our product are passing the border between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan
In August of 2021, the capital city of Afghanistan, Kabul, fell to the Taliban. This would lead to an uncertain time for the Afghan people, including those who relied on the export routes out of the country. Planes with goods stopped flying out of Kabul, the borders were watched, and sea routes were not an option as the country is landlocked. This meant that the waistcoats were stuck in Kabul, far from Østerland’s customers.
While Østerland and so many others waited patiently for the borders to open, an important partnership was made between Østerland and Warfair, a corporation established by Christian Friis Bach. Warfair aims to support countries affected by conflict and fragility, by for example providing transport of goods out of those countries. In November 2021, with Warfair’s help, the waistcoats were finally packed and in a truck, with spices, nuts and all the other wonders that Afghanistan has to offer. The truck was to cross the Afghan border into Uzbekistan, and from there it was bound towards Denmark. What wonderful news after months of uncertainty!
It continues to remain difficult to get products out of Afghanistan. In an interview with Christan Friis Bach, he tells us that it is “expensive, laborious, and risky”, discouraging businesses from working with Afghan artisans or businesses. But the founder of Warfair also stresses that we need to be willing to take this risk and to be “stubborn and resilient” for “beautiful, unique and high quality” products, like our waistcoats, to reach the global market. He also believes that this is the way forward for many countries, such as Afghanistan. Partnerships, like the one between Warfair and Østerland, are vital for furthering trade with countries that rely on the income and work that it generates. Thus, Østerland is determined to continue to produce beautiful handicraft in Afghanistan, in order to support the country’s rich artisans tradition and the families whose livelihood are reliant on their craft.
After a long journey, our beautiful and unique waistcoats are now for sale on Østerland and Warfair’s webshops and are ready to be purchased by conscious customers like you.