AARONG – THE BRAND STORY
Aarong started with a clear ‘Purpose’, a purpose that emanated from BRAC’s core vision of alleviating poverty and empowering people towards a better future. BRAC started its operations soon after the liberation war, on resettling and rehabilitating refugees returning from India. Later, in 1976, BRAC began training women in sericulture in Manikganj and Ayesha Abed, who worked at BRAC, initiated many of the major activities of Aarong by identifying and experimenting with various crafts that women could produce at home. At that time there were only a few buyers who were scattered across Dhaka. Weeks, even months, would pass before the women would get ...view middle of the document...
Instant payment as opposed to the market practice of payment after sales ensured Producers a steady cash flow to reinvest into their businesses, and pay their artisans immediately after production. Low interest loans with no collateral further provided access to much needed capital which would otherwise be too difficult to secure through a bank. A dedicated team of designers and product development experts would assist in producing apparels and non-textiles items that the market demands. A strong quality control process would further ensure that the products are competitive and build a strong reputation in the market.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s Aarong focused on developing its product lines and production capabilities. Aarong’s designers began to study and catalogue the designs and motifs of traditional art forms, visiting museums, elderly craft masters and private collectors. They experimented with indigenous materials and forms, adapting them to possible new lines. Aarong hired master craftsmen to help train village women and created a Textile Design and Service Workshop in Manikganj to experiment with materials and technologies in stitching, weaving and dying.
In 1982, the Ayesha Abed Foundation (“AAF”) was established by family and friends to commemorate the memory and work of late Ayesha Abed who died unexpectedly during childbirth in 1981. The Foundation was created to provide an appropriate working environment, financial and technical assistance and training to develop rural women’s skills in various crafts. Aarong would buy all of the products produced by women under AAF.
During the 1980s, in addition to starting the AAF, Aarong opened more retail outlets and began exporting a small percentage of goods to fair trade organizations in Europe. By the mid to late 1980s Aarong began to emerge as a fashion brand due to its innovative designs and high quality products despite the fact that the majority of urban Bangladeshis had little fashion awareness and consciousness.
Aarong was the first brand to start doing photo shoots and hold fashion shows, well researched craft exhibitions and other forms of media publicity focused events. Through these groundbreaking marketing initiatives Aarong was able to grow its popularity and brand awareness within the country.
By the early 1990s Aarong had become the leading fashion house in Bangladesh and had created a one-stop, destination location for middle to upper class urban shoppers. During the 1990s, Aarong continued to build brand equity through fashion shows and publicity events while benefiting from the emerging prominence of fashion in Bangladeshi society. At the same time, Aarong’s unique product designs were able to bring consumer attention back to the crafts that are indigenous to Bangladesh as its designers blended the traditional with the contemporary in a way that was able to win consumer appeal and start a revolution in trends that has now been...