Gaza’s first fashion design house helps residents fight unemployment

More Gazans are heading into the field of fashion design, a sign of the industry’s booming future

[Gaza] In the tiny, blockaded Gaza Strip, which has some of the highest population and unemployment rates in the world, the thought of finding a job is next to impossible, especially with the continued deterioration of its economic and living conditions. Therefore, the need to change professions has become the only choice for many in order to survive.

Khalil Khudair and Aya Eid are among those who not only survived but believed in their talent in fashion design and used it to help others achieve their dreams and endure the cruel economic conditions at the same time.

Two months ago, the two designers and their three assistants opened the first fashion design house in the Gaza Strip, which teaches the methods and basics of the art of fashion design ahead of the launch of a private label and a production line. The move was seen as bold and risky given the coastal enclave’s unstable situation and economic fragility, as well as cultural barriers, but the payoff is greater, according to Khudair.

“Despite everything, mainly the economic difficulties, we managed to realize our dream of starting this project. Hopefully this will give our young people a glimpse of hope to stay here and earn a living instead of dangerously migrating to other countries in search of a decent life,” Khudair told The Media Line.

The fashion house Khalil & Aya strives to train professional and qualified designers ready to enter the labor market, in particular by offering them, for a nominal fee, valuable training courses in fashion design, sewing and international fashion production using the latest methods and the best machinery to ensure optimum results. In addition, the fashion house offers its best students employment opportunities in local companies or garment factories.

Rani Kafina, 24, an accounting graduate who couldn’t find a job in her field in Gaza, decided to try professional work and joined the design course at the Khalil & Aya fashion house. (Hazem Albaz/The Media Line)

Rani Kafina, 24, a graduate in accountancy who hasn’t found a job in her field of study, decides to embark on a professional career and joins the fashion house’s design course.

“I didn’t know anything about this industry, but I was determined to learn from scratch and work hard because it’s my only chance before giving up life in this place. Thank God I can now design, cut patterns, sewing and producing high quality clothing. I am grateful for this place and for the instructors,” he told The Media Line.

Although recently established, the fashion house has achieved considerable success in attracting keen students of both genders; over 40 men and women to date have been trained and qualified to start their own businesses.

Etedal Lulu, 44, a householder and mother of five with no real source of income, is one of the fashion house’s talented students with a special promise.

“My sons and I looked everywhere for any type of work to meet our basic needs, but all our efforts were in vain until I found this house and started learning sewing and design. “, she told The Media Line. “I have acquired great skills and knowledge and am ready to start my own small business, and I have brought my youngest son to learn here too so that we can expand the work and improve our living conditions.”

Having such a project in Gaza will leave great impacts not only on small designers but on the whole future of Palestinian fashion design in general.

Khudair, who studied fashion design in Jordan in 1996, already has his own brand, Khalil Fashion, which he first launched in 2000 and has worked day and night to make it reach neighboring countries like the Emirates. United Arabs and Egypt. Her biggest wish, however, was to interest more people in Gaza in the fashion design industry and to change the negative image that the world has of Gaza – that it lacks creative talents and great abilities.

“With the efforts of our hard-working generations, we will be able to transmit our rich culture through fashion design to the world and our Palestinian brands will shine and compete with the most famous fashion houses in the world,” a- he stated confidently.

His partner Eid told The Media Line: ‘We are trying to showcase the talents of the band by improving skills and encouraging more people to get involved in the field which will achieve some kind of future self-sufficiency in terms of imports. goods and fashion from abroad. Why import it if we have the ability to compete with our excellent domestic industry? ”

Eid and Khudair plan to expand their fashion house and add a new computer fashion design teaching department in addition to preparing for the launch of the Khalil & Aya production line.

Joseph E. Golightly