First Fashion Design House in Gaza Helps Residents Fight Unemployment
More Gazans are heading to the field of fashion design, a sign of the industry’s flourishing future
[Gaza] In the tiny and blockaded Gaza Strip, where the population and unemployment rates are among the highest in the world, the idea of finding a job is nearly impossible, especially with the ongoing deterioration of its economic and living conditions. Therefore, the need to switch 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 to follow their dreams and to 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 methods and basics of fashion design art as a prelude to launching a private label and production line. The move was seen as bold and risky given the unstable situation and the fragile economy in the coastal enclave, as well as the cultural barriers, but the gain is bigger, according to Khudair.
“Despite all, mainly the economic hardship, we managed to achieve our dream of starting this project. Hopefully, this will give our youth a glimpse of hope to stay here and make a living instead of dangerously migrating to other countries in search of a decent living,” Khudair told The Media Line.
The Khalil & Aya Fashion House works to train professional and qualified designers that are ready to engage in the labor market, including providing them, for nominal fees, with valuable training courses in fashion design, sewing and international fashion production using the latest methods and the best machines to ensure optimal results. Moreover, the fashion house offers its best students job opportunities at local clothing companies or factories.
Rani Kafina, 24, an accounting graduate who failed to find a job in his field of study, decided to try vocational work and joined the design course at the fashion house.
“I knew nothing about this industry, but I was determined to learn from scratch and work hard because this is my only chance before giving up life in this place. Thank God now I can design, cut patterns, sew and produce high-quality clothing. I’m grateful for this place and for the instructors,” he told The Media Line.
Although only recently established, the fashion house has achieved considerable success in attracting passionate students of both genders; more than 40 men and women so far have been trained and become qualified to start their own businesses.
One of the talented female students at the fashion house with special promise is Etedal Lulu, 44, a head of household and mother of five with no real source of income.
“My sons and I looked everywhere for any kind of work in order to fulfill our basic needs, but all our efforts were useless until I found this house and started to learn sewing and design,” she told The Media Line. “I’ve gained great skills and knowledge and am ready to start my own small business, and I 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 entire future of Palestinian fashion design in general.
Khudair, who studied fashion design in Jordan in 1996, already has his own brand, Khalil Fashion, that he first launched in 2000 and worked day and night to make it reach neighboring countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. His greater wish, however, was to interest more people in Gaza in the fashion design industry and to change the world’s negative image about Gaza – that it lacks creative talents and high capacities.
“With the efforts of our hard-working generations, we will be able to deliver our rich culture through fashion design to the whole world and our Palestinian brands will shine and compete with the most famous fashion houses globally,” he said with confidence.
His partner Eid told The Media Line: “We are trying to highlight the talents of the Strip by enhancing the skills and encouraging more people to get involved in the field, which will achieve a kind of self-sufficiency in the future in terms of importing goods and fashion from abroad. Why import it if we have the ability to compete with our excellent national industry? ”
Eid and Khudair are planning to develop their fashion house and add a new department for teaching computer fashion design in addition to preparing to launch the Khalil & Aya production line.