October 7, 2014

Palestinian entrepreneurs show at NY Fashion Week

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Last September two Palestinian entrepreneurs showcased how traditional embroidery can elevate pantsuits, capes and the classic clutch during New York Fashion Week. The women business owners, supported by SPARK’s partner the Business Women Forum, were happy to see their local Palestinian designs ardently accepted as must-haves by seasoned fashion lovers.

It is all too often that the globalisation of markets causes the loss of local heritage. But when it comes to globalising local handicrafts the opposite proves true; traditional techniques passed down from generations and the women who master them become essential. Ms. Rehab Daqaweieh (Ramallah) and Ms. Khalwa Al-Khitab (Bethlehem) presented their embroidered clothes and accessories at the Women Empowering Women Luncheon and Fashion Show at the UN headquarters together with women designers from Ethiopia, India, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea and Peru.

The Women Empowering Women event had over 300 attendees and was chaired by Arancha Gonzalez Executive Director of the International Trade Center (ITC) and the Gina Casar Associate Administrator of the UNDP. Other distinguished guests included Cherie Blair, Ban Soon-taek, wife of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Cameron Russell, supermodel.

Before showcasing their work on the runway and at the Joey Showroom, Ms. Daqaweieh and Ms. Al-Khitab took part in a training at Parsons The New School for Design in New York and the University of the Arts in London. The trainings focused on exposing the Palestinian entrepreneurs to the latest technologies in fashion design and the nuanced tastes of the international fashion community. As 80% of the NY and London based students incorporated the Palestinian embroidery in their graduation projects, it’s safe to say the students were equally inspired by the entrepreneurs’ craftsmanship.

Ms. Daqaweieh says: “I have never imagined that I could display my designs in international showrooms in the presence of world’s celebrities and achieve our aspiration in introducing Palestinian embroidery to the international markets. I would like to present this opportunity of success to more than 200 rural women who have embroidered these pieces of Palestinian heritage.”

In her opening speech, Ms. Gonazalez stressed that in fashion: “like so many sectors, even though the ideas and the capacity exist amongst the talented entrepreneurs in developing countries there is a need to bring them closer to the market. It is about building their skills and knowledge to understand the industry, exploit the opportunities, expand their consumer base, and generate more jobs and revenue in their home country.”