Hanna Bassil never visited his ancestral homeland. For the 26-year-old designer who was born in Jordan, Palestine was an elusive dream, a place much talked about by his family and of which he often read, but that he at no time had visited himself.
When he launched Jdeed, a streetwear label reflecting Middle Eastern, and specifically Palestinian heritage, Bassil was in a way reconnecting with his roots. “I wanted to create a streetwear brand inspired by Middle Eastern culture, like the keffiyeh and hand-embroidery,” he says, “integrating them subtly but stylishly into my designs – clothes to wear on any occasion, whether casually or in a more formal way.”
Before attending the University of Michigan, where he earned a Bachelor’s in economics and communication studies, Bassil lived in Greece, Dubai and Jordan. Immediately after he completed his degree, he got into the PR industry in New York, where he was exposed to fashion and worked on projects involving Gigi Hadid and Tommy Hilfiger. After a year in New York, he moved to London, where he kept thinking about launching his own streetwear label, while studying for his Master’s in strategic marketing at Imperial College and working in brand partnerships at a record label – music is another passion of his.
Bassil launched Jdeed in February 2021, after identifying a gap in the market for a streetwear brand inspired by Middle Eastern culture. “Jdeed is a modern take on iconic Middle Eastern embroidery, integrated subtly to offer a streetwear look that fits any occasion and goes across borders,” he says. For him, the Jdeed wearer is someone who’s both stylish and politically conscious. “People who wear Jdeed have an eye for modern contemporary streetwear,” he says, “ and they also appreciate the brand story: shedding positive light on Palestinian people and their struggles.”
Jdeed’s debut collection was manufactured primarily in China, but there’s an element in each piece that’s handmade by Palestinian women living in the Jerash refugee camp in Jordan. “I worked with 30 women in the refugee camp,” Bassil says. “I gave them a label to design and hand-embroider in any way they like. I then displayed the label on the back bottom left of each piece produced. Every piece has this label. For the first season, we have a total of 500 hoodies, so the Palestinian women in Jerash produced 500 unique labels by hand.” He adds that 10% of all proceeds from Jdeed sales go to support Palestinian refugees.
Two pieces from the Jdeed collection are particularly close to Bassil’s heart. The first, New Views, is a black hoodie inspired by the fishnet pattern found on the traditional keffiyeh scarf. The other item, Take a Look, is also a hoodie, and it’s a nod to the daily struggles of Gaza residents. The photo on the back is by Gaza photographer Wissam Nassar and shows two Palestinian boys climbing on a Gaza mural painted by German artist Akot, with the words “I see you, do you see me?”
“Jdeed is a way for me to feel more connected to the Palestinian people,” says Bassil. “I’ve never been to Palestine. That was always one of my reasons for creating this brand.”