Hello. Thank you for coming to learn more about our ethics and practices at TŪNIQ. Only through radical transparency in everything from clothing to the meat industry to technology and beauty, can we begin to reverse some of the harms of industrialization, colonization, and capitalism on the vulnerable. We commend you for seeking this information for yourself.
Please watch this video for a transparent look at our process of hand-producing every one of our pieces in harmony with the rhythm and lives of local communities
We have three things which we believe are sacred and which we hope to protect and nourish through TŪNIQ:
To be frank, we used to be somewhat ashamed at TŪNIQ that we started a business. The pursuit of profit seemed to us, a corrupt impulse, and we wished we could help these artisans without seeking to make money off our customers. But, further thought and experience has taught us that of course humans traded with one another and did business long before the modern era which has been so destructive. Such premodern forms and cultures of trade can inspire ours today. We at TŪNIQ are inspired by the ethos of the North African merchants in the Souq, who often send their own customers over to their fellow traders in the same industry if they know their brother or sister hasn't made a sale yet that day. We believe that trade shouldn’t be about the relentless pursuit of profit. It should be about sharing and generating benefits for everyone. Every step of the way should bring benefit and blessing into the lives of everyone involved, not destruction. Our artisans support themselves and fulfill their love of their craft, our customers get to purchase beautiful unique products at fair prices and engage with a business that enriches their soul and humanity, and we get to work in accordance with our values and support ourselves as well as explore our ideas for generating a more just world through The Oasis Journal.
Its really that simple to us. Where there was nothing, through loving labor, we can generate benefit for all. That's our economic philosophy.
This ethos is manifested in many subtle ways in our business. Because we believe that humans have been degraded and commodified through the culture of overconsumption and marketing which has seeped into the very fabric of society and community, when we “market” something, we are completely transparent. We do not overly praise our product. We do not insist that you “need” this, because you most likely don’t need it and that language contributes harmfully to the global consumerist culture. We hope to honestly and simply describe our products and their benefits while aspiring that you feel a connection to their beauty and authenticity.
It is also manifested in how we continuously ask ourselves how are our workers benefiting from this, how are my customers benefitting from this. How is this a give and take in which, where there was nothing, because of this transaction it generates good for everyone. Everyone in this process was better off at the end of the transactions, and they had a pleasant, honest, human interaction that was really blessed for everyone involved with no harm generated to anyone else.
It also means we reject the over sexualization and objectification of human bodies by brands and corporations, so we knew that we wanted the clothes to be easy to layer, loose fitting, and not overly sexual, but rather practical and functional. We designed our own sizing chart to fit the needs of average people and we strive to create designs that are comfortable and modest.
It also means we are angry at the rampant cultural appropriation and racism in the fashion industry, which is why we only design clothes that draw directly from our own traditions, our own culture, the traditional Tunisian and North African crafts and arts. We also chose to design a few pieces that incorporate Tunisian designs and traditions, but are still wearable and modern for a western audience. This is because of our commitment to uplifting our craftspeople and making their labor a source of enriching them and their communities (more below). We therefore felt that we had do to be able to sell our clothes to more affluent audiences outside of North Africa who could afford these beautiful items. With time, we hope that North Africans will also be able to afford them and regional wealth distinctions caused by colonization will be eliminated.
Instead of the TŪNIQ logo, each of our women's pieces comes with a "woman's word" on the tag such as "Munawara" (she is radiant) or "Qawiyya" (she is strong).
We have thought a lot about colonization and the need for reparations. And we've wondered why, if the poor former colonies of the world are essentially the ones producing everything that the wealthy former colonizers of the world are buying, why isn’t that benefiting those countries? Why isn’t that bringing about the redistribution of wealth that it should be resulting in and that it has the potential to create? It has the potential to be the basis for the self-empowerment of the Global South. Instead, it seems to only be further impoverishing us.
The reason, we've learned, this isn’t benefiting them is because their labor is being exploited by Western corporations who take all of that generated wealth and the profit margin for themselves. In fast fashion for example, you have women in Bangladesh making 5 Zara shirts a day getting paid a few dollars a week while Zara charges $80 or more per shirt. We believe that is modern slavery. And its happening in almost every manufacturing industry where products are mass produced outside the West and brought back to be sold at cheap prices. Though we're not Marxists, it is just as Marx aptly said that the defining feature of the modern economy is that those who own the means of production get richer and richer while the worker "becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and size. The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates. The devaluation of the world of men is in direct proportion to the increasing value of the world of things. Labor produces not only commodities; it produces itself and the worker as a commodity." (Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844)
For all of these reasons, we believe it is our duty to ensure that the labor of our artisans humanizes and enriches them the more that they work, rather than commodifies and impoverishes them. Originally, we wanted to reinvest a portion of profits into NGOs that would provide health and education services to our artisans. Now, this sounded nice in theory, but then we thought: if we're against paternalism, against outsiders coming in and deciding whats best for brown people and poor people, isn’t that exactly what we would be doing in this case? Why should we plan for them where this money should be reinvested rather than just giving it into their hands directly, since they have a partial right to it having worked to create that wealth and they know best what to do with it? This is why we've committed to sharing a fair portion of every season's profits with our artisans, redistributing it back into their hands so that they share in the fruits of their labor, the ownership of TŪNIQ, and don't feel robbed of the right to profit and feel the benefits of success.
When it comes to our fabric, we are working on cutting synthetic materials completely out of our production, to reduce the growing destruction of plastic microfibers in our water systems. Our wool is local and hand-woven, and our tunics are currently a blend of organic cotton and viscose. We are also trying to offer wool products that rely on natural colors produced by sheep, rather than injecting them with toxic dyes which are bad for the earth and our health. With time, we hope to introduce natural plant-based dyes into our products as well, and we would appreciate any suggestions or advice.
We have also cut plastic completely out of our packaging and are instead protecting your pieces with recycled paper and other similar materials.