Are you rummaging through the lanes of Zainab Market? Are you a shopaholic constantly looking for the good stuff that’s also affordable and a click away? Then head over to Export Leftovers or as the online community calls it, ELO.
ELO is an online brand that sells export quality goods at local prices and sometimes even lesser. ELO caught the public’s attention solely through their online marketing on Facebook.
The Ugly Truth About Pakistan’s Garment Industry
Behind the glamour of dazzling clothes that blinds our eyes, the garment industry does a brilliant job in keeping its consumers oblivious of its dirty business.
It’s complicit in not only producing waste but also not managing it properly and efficiently, all of which contributes to Pakistan’s never-ending waste problem.
To serve your own country, is not an easy decision to make. Especially when you know there’s little reciprocation and yet, people like Umar continue to amaze us.
The Mastermind Behind ELO
Hailing from Faisalabad, Umar Qamar comes from a family of entrepreneurs. Pakistan’s budding entrepreneur went to the University of Edinburgh for a Business undergrad followed by his Masters from CASS Business School, London. Passionate about sustainability and zero leftovers, Umar has set a goal to go zero waste by the year 2022.
Speaking to FUCHSIA, Umar told us the story about his soon-to-be revolutionary endeavor.
“When my father asked me to join the family business, I soon realized there wasn’t much for me to do there. The finance team was excellent, production was at an all-time high and so were merchandise and marketing. Normally if you’re a CEO’s son, who’s just gotten back to the country, you get the job without having to do any hard work. I didn’t want that for myself”.
How It All Started
“In 2013, Pakistan was going through a retail revolution; consumerism was at an all-time high. I had realized my passions and ancestral business mind and decided to start my own e-store. Polo Republica was a result of that. Everything was set and it was time to produce actual garments until we realized that the garment industry already had orders to work on (exports). During this period a Canadian client had gone bankrupt as a result of which he had to cancel his shipment. I think that was it, that’s where it started. My father asked me to sell the shipment and I made Export Leftovers to get it off my hands.” Said Umar, in his interview with FUCHSIA.
ELO now works as a middle man, selling export leftovers from various factories. Polo Republica, however, does something even cooler. Considering the leftover fabric, Umar uses the fabric to make innovative outer and innerwear. Umar serves as the founder of ELO and the managing director of Polo Republica.
Why You Absolutely Need To Check Out Polo Republica
Polo Republica was featured in the top 100 Startups in Pakistan and has also won £3,000 at City Starters Weekend in London and here is why it matters…
Umar saw how much fabric and garment would go to waste every time he visited one of his relatives’ garment factories. This not only gave him the idea in the first place but also a purpose to Polo Republica.
Umar claims, “There are no other companies or brands that we know of who make their clothes entirely of leftover fabric and accessories. The company is not producing any new fabric or accessories to make garments; as there already is a lot of unused fabric and accessories in Pakistan that can be used to make amazing garments out of”.
Here’s How Umar Is Solving Pakistan’s Biggest Textile Crisis
Umar thinks of sustainable ways to reuse his family’s garment factory waste. Polo Republica’s latest product is eco-friendly tote bags made out of left over collars from polo shirts. He explains the process in his Instagram video. Reusable products include zippers, buttons and much more.
What’s Next For Polo Republica?
Umar owes his success to Facebook. Time and again, Umar has spoken about ethical fashion and sustainable design. It’s honestly refreshing to hear him talk about it every single time!
Umar started with shirts and a single factory. He now sells almost all clothing items and more with more than just a single factory.
We wish Umar luck and hope to see more sustainable products in the future. Having said that we hope leading brands of Pakistan take notice of the sort of impact they can create. Maybe they can play their part in making sustainable design a trend? Export quality goods that aren’t going to cost me an arm or a leg, YES PLEASE!
Maryam’s a Communication and Design major and an English and Comparative Literature minor at Habib University. She thoroughly enjoys reading South Asian Literature and is a Partition Literature enthusiast, who is often found admiring the origins of cultural theory.
While one may occasionally find her at events catering to art and culture in Karachi, she would much rather be home binge-watching British comedy.
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