Fashion's power to tell a story without words is integral to the work of these 10 Palestinian fashion designers.
In the world of fashion, the stories told through cloth and stitch often carry layers of cultural significance, weaving together threads of history, identity, and resilience. The Palestinian fashion scene is an unyielding force of creativity where designers are not just crafting garments but making bold statements about their heritage and place in the world. Pioneers like Zeid Hijazi, Reemami, and Trashy Clothing are leading this movement, infusing traditional Palestinian motifs with contemporary aesthetics. Their work is a testament to how fashion can be both a mirror reflecting societal challenges and a beacon of hope, showcasing the indomitable spirit of a people. Each design echoes tales of tradition, ambition, and an inherent desire to break barriers. They're not just pieces of clothing but symbols of a vibrant culture asserting its space on the global stage.
Palestinian-Jordanian designer and winner of the Fashion Trust Arabia 'Debut Talent' prize in 2020, Zeid Hijazi, was inspired to create his debut collection ‘Kalt’ after watching the Tunisian film Bedwin Hackers, in which the titular character, Kalt, hacks television frequencies and broadcasts messages and symbology around freedom and equality for North Africans. The film prompted Zeid to think of how he could use Palestinian symbology – which is embedded in his culture’s traditional embroidery – to broadcast a message. “My work is drenched in symbolism at the moment,” Zeid said in an exclusive interview with Savoir Flair. “When I started designing this collection, Sheikh Jarrah, where my grandmother lives, was going through hell. I wanted to take Palestinian symbology like the Key of Hebron and the Moon of Palestine and use them as means of communication. Those are not symbols I created, but symbols my ancestors created.” Read our full interview with Zeid Hijazi here.
Palestinian designer Reema Al Banna is the heart and brains behind the Sharjah-based brand Reemami, which recently saw its debut at Paris Fashion Week. Reemami is a brand long championed by Savoir Flair because of its whimsical designs, creative printmaking, and storytelling rooted in Palestinian tradition. Her latest collection, ViviD Vortex, brings elements of surf skating, punk, and Al Banna’s own childhood memories to the fore, and builds upon the success of her prior collection, A Tin of Olive Oil.
Palestinian designer Hazar Jawabra built upon a family tradition of knitting to bring a personal touch to her vibrant, psychedelic knitwear brand. An explosion of colors, intricate textures, and unusual silhouettes make her work instantly identifiable.
Focused on tailoring, proportions, and a timeless attitude, Hind Hilal’s eponymous Palestine-based brand is a treasure trove of contemporary designs. Flowing shirts with pleating construction, delicate tops with articulated bosoms, patterned dresses with puckered sleeves, and more daywear options fill the virtual shelves of Hind Hilal’s online shop, subtly transmitting a message of empowerment.
Palestinian designer Yasmeen Mjalli produces her ethical line Nöl Collective in Palestine with the help of a network of artisan studios, women’s cooperatives around Palestine, and family-run sewing workshops. Mjalli’s vision is to bring weaving, embroidery, and tailoring traditions to a modern wardrobe with the use of naturally dyed textiles that are enhanced by traditional Tatreez embroidery and handwoven elements.
Palestinian designer Natalie Tahhan aims to do more than just create beautiful clothes and shoes – she aims to educate. Utilizing patterns found in the five major regions of Palestine – Jerusalem, Hebron, Jaffa, Ramallah, and Gaza – her work is part fashion, part history lesson. With gorgeously colored capes, tunics, and embroidered shoes, Tahhan advances her Palestinian heritage with every release.
Interpreting traditional designs with a modern twist, Palestinian-American designer Suzy Tamimi uses vintage embroidery to tell the story of her heritage and homeland. Tatreez embroidery is turned into wearable works of art in the form of hoodies, hats, belts, and other colorful, eye-catching accessories. The pieces read as beautiful interpretations of past and present, woven through with Palestine’s historical narrative and enduring struggle for freedom in the face of oppression.
Describing itself as an “anti-luxury fashion label”, Palestinian brand Trashy Clothing, founded by Shukri Lawrence and Omar Braika, has a strong political message. “The label's goal is to address difficult political circumstances by conveying design statements of anti-colonial resistance and joyful artistic militancy. In the face of the ongoing occupation, joy is weaponized through fashionable humour to actively resist colonial attempts of erasure,” the brand states proudly on its website. Its clothes are thoroughly modern, featuring tattoo prints, wrap skirts, knit bralettes, and graphic tees, but a distinct satirical message runs through it all, cleverly exposing issues of pinkwashing, artwashing, and cultural appropriation.
Traditional cross-stitch is at the heart of Noora Abdeen Khalifeh’s work at her brand Dar Noora. Symbols in her collections – like the Palestinian Olive-backed Sun Bird, a mystical and ancient creature – stand for defiance and freedom. The unrestricted movement of the Sun Bird tells a story of Palestine’s hope for a future free from oppression.
For thousands of years, Tatreez embroidery has stood the test of time and is always inspiring new generations of creatives to interpret its meaning in their own unique way. Meera Albaba, founder of Meera Adnan, places a romantic and nostalgic lens on Tatreez, using the embroidery to enliven beautiful, contemporary ready-to-wear pieces. Look closely at her work and you’ll spy elements like Palestinian flowers, native fruits, subliminal maps, and more.