A Kurdish Fashion Collective Is Proving Style Can Change the World

Mannequin in Tailoring Studio
Mannequin in Tailoring Studio | © Dmitriy Shironosov / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of India Irving
Social Media Editor31 January 2018

When most people think of Iraq, they are plagued by visions of war and violence, but this group of young, progressive Kurdish men is working to change that stereotype through fashion.

Mr. Erbil, a ‘fashion club’ founded by a forward-thinking group of young Kurdish gentlemen, was born less than an hour by car from the war-torn streets of Mosul in Northern Iraq, but no one could guess that judging from their photos. Their social media pages are brimming with style and glamour, with photos of the handsome men looking runway-ready in their chic, tailored attire.

The goal of the club is to show the world another side to Iraq – one of culture, compassion and style as opposed to violence and oppression – and the dapper gents behind the group are doing an incredible job of making this vision happen.

From showcasing unique Iraqi textiles and handicrafts, including information on their history and how they are made via their almost 38,000-fan strong Facebook page to promoting Iraqi female entrepreneurs with their ‘Women’s Inspiration’ feature on their 90,000+ followed Instagram account, the fellas are pushing for real change and doing so in the most relevant millennial way – blogging.

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From time to time Most of us were curious to know/see this lady “Shanaz Salayi, the girl behind @KurdishProblemz account is our Thursday "Women’s Inspiration" Shortly after Shanaz was born in Hawler – Kurdistan, her family fled the region due to the social and economic circumstances Kurdistan was facing and resided in Ireland until 2010 when they returned back to Kurdistan. She completed school in Hawler, and is currently a Senior Clinical Biochemistry student at Hawler Medical University. In 2014, during her transition between high school and university life, Shanaz established @KurdishProblemz across Twitter and Instagram, her inspiration to create the page rooted from her thoughts which revolved around the problems that Kurds; especially girls, face in their everyday lives. @Kurdishproblemz has been going steady ever since and only in the past year has it had a boost in publicity, we’ve all come across at least one of her posts that made us hit ‘like’ because of how relatable it was. Check her account @kurdishproblemz to see her great and funny posts 😃 #MrsErbil #MrErbil #KurdishMemes #KurdishVine #FunnyLife #DailyRoutine #FunnyShit #Erbil #Hawler #Kurdistan #FunnyMemes #ErbilFashionBlogger #GirlsTime #KurdishGirl #FunnyStuff #Kirkuk #Slemani #Duhok #Halabja #Ranya #KurdaBora #TeamNoKishmish #Zakho #GirlsBeLike #KurdishProblemz #WomenPower #GirlsLife #Inspirations #GirlsRule

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Their features on Kurdish and Iraqi artists and business owners put real faces to a people that the western world is too used to seeing strictly through a lens of war and unrest. The posts about inspirational women in particular are a wonderful reminder absent from the press that many Iraqis are pro-women and want to do the work to support their rise in society.

The group is branching out into design as well, with a line of beautiful,Iraqi-made, hand-crafted ties which come presented in handmade wooden boxes. The ties themselves are made from a goat’s fur fabric called krr, which is also unique to the region, hence again an example of the collective sharing the lesser known aspects of their culture with the global community.

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The Making Of The Fabric This is the hand weaver machine that makes the luxury fabric called krr “shall”. It is an old style practice, the process of making one meter can take days, a batch is usually 25 meter long and 18 cm wide. Mr.Erbil ties are made with this unique fabric. SOON we'll share a video and showing the process in its full details. لە پرۆسەی (کرداری) دروستکردنی قوماشی کر (شاڵ) کە بۆینباغی مستەر ئەربیلی لێ دروست دەکرێت، ئامێری رستن و چنین (دەزگای تەون)ی دروستکراو لە دار بەکاردەهێندرێت. کرداری دروستکردنەکە بە حەوت قۆناغدا تێپەڕ دەبێت، بۆ دەستکەوتنی تۆپێک قوماشی کر کە (۲۲  ـ ۲٥ مەتر) درێژو (۱۸ـ۲۲ سانتیمەتر) پانە. ئەم پڕۆسەیە پێویستی بە زیاتر لە حەوت رۆژی کارکردنی دەستی بەردەوام هەیە. ئەم کردارە تایبەتمەندییەکی نایاب دەبەخشێت بەو قوماشە کە لە قوماشی تری ئاسایی جیادەکاتەوە. دواتر، بە فیدیۆ کردارەکانی تری قوماشەکە دەخەینە بەر دەستی ئێوەی ئازیز. #PeopleOfKurdistan #MrErbil #Rishn #BEmrerbil #TeamMrErbil #TheCraftsman #BeSpoke #Handmade #Craftsman #Handcrafted #TraditionalArt #Erbil #Hawler #ThisIsMyKurdistan #Slemani #Duhok #Kurdistan #Iraq #Baghdad #Mohair #Fabrication #Angora #Wool #MrErbilTie #WoodArt #WoodArtist #EverydayKurdistan #EverydayMiddleEast #EverydayEverywhere #MadeInKurdistan

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‘We believe fashion can make a difference,’ the group told Vogue, ‘because you can portray your image as you wish in society, which gives a sense of freedom to individuals to express themselves.’ These gentlemen are truly inspirational and exactly what the world needs to begin to see positive change.

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