Despite ongoing attempts to suppress the Palestinian identity and creative scene, designers based in Palestine, once again, prove they can defy and overcome the odds stacked against them. The 10 designers featured here on FTA may come from different walks of life, but they’re all reshaping the global narrative surrounding their homeland.
Nol Collective is more than a fashion brand: it’s a design hub based in Ramallah, Palestine, whose work is rooted in sharing and harvesting creativity within the Palestinian community. Nol Collective focuses on feminism, Palestinian culture, ethical fashion and social justice. Their apparel is created in Gaza, their jewelry is handmade by a women’s cooperative based in Beit Duqqu and their embroidery is sourced from a women’s cooperative made up of 60 women from Ramallah and Gaza.
NNBYNN by Angham Khalil is a contemporary, gender-neutral, ready-to-wear brand based in Haifa. Inspired by the resilience of the Palestinian identity as well as its rich culture and heritage, the brand fuses tradition with modernity through minimal and versatile pieces. Their most recent collection, titled Sudden Attack 1948, revisits the tragic events that saw the expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland. “Perhaps they succeed in separating us both, in place and through time, yet we remain connected inside,” Khalil says. The brand vows to challenge the systemic problems of overproduction by curating one seasonless collection per year.
Meera Adnan is a contemporary ready-to-wear label based in Gaza, Palestine. The brand crosses borders and spaces by operating from an area that is under siege. The brand is influenced by religious, political and local references and can best be described as one that encapsulates romance with a dramatic flair. The brand’s debut collection in 2020 drew its inspiration from Palestine in the 1980s, when men were more expressive in emotion and style and women were more individualistic.
Hind Hilal is a contemporary ready-to-wear label founded by Palestinian designer and architect Hind Hilal. The brand is based in Bethlehem, Palestine, and perfectly fuses the beauty of architecture with fashion, embodying the strength and femininity of each woman through garments that weave structure with fluidity. From flow to layers and volume, the brand is influenced by the designer’s Palestinian roots and upbringing. The brand’s latest collection, titled A Token of Clove, is inspired by a Palestinian wedding tradition – a clove necklace is gifted to a bride-to-be a day before her wedding, as a token of value and worth. The collection reflects the inner strength of women then and now.
Trashy Clothing is a satirical ready-to-wear Palestinian fashion brand co-founded by Shukri Lawrence and Omar Braika. The brand questions the fantasized luxury ideals in mainstream fashion and presents each collection with the spirit of anti-fashion through a satirical and subversive lens. Trashy Clothing aims to dismiss branding rules and questions classist fashion standards. Being a Palestinian brand, the Internet is Trashy Clothing’s safe haven – this is because there are no borders and restrictions to their movement. As such, online subcultures are instrumental to the brand and a way to continue challenging misconceptions pertaining to Palestine.
Anat International transcends the borders of fashion. It’s a collective aiming to revive the textile industry in Gaza. Operating under the ethos of “embroidery has no gender,” Anat International is committed to keeping the tradition of Palestinian embroidery alive. All garments are made in Gaza, Palestine, and include denim, embroidery and more. This is particularly important for the brand, as the unemployment rate in Gaza stands at 52% “due to the ongoing siege” placed on the city. Anat does not manufacture in bulk and embraces the slow fashion movement. They’re pushing the conversation about the perils associated with fast fashion, specifically its effects on human labor, the environment and animals.
Mai Zarkawi is a Palestinian jewelry designer based in Jerusalem. Through her craft, Zarkawi manifests ideas of self-expression and non-conformist thinking. Zarkawi, who is a dancer, explores dance through her celebration of beauty in raw, organic and asymmetric jewelry, encouraging people to celebrate life and be free and conscious.
Hanna Hamam is a 27-year-old Palestinian designer who was born and raised in Haifa. He explains that being a minority and living under occupation is what inspires him creatively and as an artist. Fascinated by the world of punk, Hamam is always looking for intensive emotional experiences to share with the world. These emotions are extracted from subcultures, ways of resistance, music, politics and interactions with various people. He is set to launch his debut collection later this year.
Nadine Khalili is a jewelry designer based in Ramallah, Palestine. Best known for her delicate handmade jewelry using precious metals, gems and beads, she is most notably known for using traditional wire wrapping techniques. “I make all of my jewelry using hand tools,” she explains. Khalili started her business on Facebook in 2015, and has since found wide success, launching an online store in October 2020. Every piece is unique and can be customized and personalized to each person’s individual style.
Palestinian designer Hazar Jawabra reactivates traditional Palestinian knitting through “the language of an intimate game of textures.” With a vividly colorful collection, Jawabra explains that her garments resemble Palestinian embroidery, but made in a loom. Her work is a reflection of the ongoing tension and pressure she feels from society: to be someone else. This energy is perfectly illustrated through her designs, which challenge the traditional parameters of knitting. The knitted masks presented are a reflection of positive energy and inner joy, which are often hidden, as one may be afraid to show such emotions. Jawabra highlights Palestine’s history by knitting with the different textures she picked up from her mother, grandmother and most Palestinian households, cementing the interconnection of the Palestinian identity.