How This Activist Brand Is Using Fragrance To Help Rebuild Myanmar
Beauty has always been political, but increasingly we expect social responsibility from the industry. Now, a new generation of activist brands are using their platform to make a difference, raising awareness and funds for causes close to their hearts.
Two people who are out here doing the work are Phway Su Aye and Su Zar Wai Hnin, the women behind fragrance brand Gabar. Founded in 2020, Gabar – which translates as ‘world’ in Burmese – was created to showcase the beauty and culture of Aye and Hnin’s homeland Myanmar and their South-East Asian heritage. The evocative fragrances are inspired by aspects of the country’s rich, expansive landscape, from the still waters of the Burmese Inle Lake to the verdant jungles of Hpa-An. “Scent can be such a powerful tool in igniting memories and accessing different states of mind,” says Aye. “That is core to our brand.”
However, Gabar’s focus evolved following a military coup in Myanmar in February 2021. Now, it is a vehicle for spreading messages of resistance and solidarity. “We built Gabar amid times of deep distress – both personally and as a country,” explains Aye, saying there is “no question” as to whether they describe themselves as an activist brand. “Because of this, we are passionate about telling Myanmar’s story; the extreme resilience of the country, the way people have banded together during hard times, and how the youth have bravely led the resistance.”
This year, 10% of Gabar’s proceeds will go to Prospect Burma, a charity that focuses on higher education for young people. Beyond consumers supporting businesses and charities that are positively impacting Myanmar, Aye urges everyone to spread awareness. “Every individual in this digital day and age can make an impact through their voice. Keeping Myanmar’s story high on minds and in the media will do wonders for helping the country continue its fight.”
Alex Peters is beauty editor at Dazed Digital. Focusing on beauty, wellness and body politics, she has written for publications including US and British Vogue, The Face and AnOther Magazine