A seamless fusion of community, culture and art
Review by Layla Ali
With thanks to 3eib for a spot on their guest list!
Pop-up shop and creative agency, 3eib, launched their brand in style on 14 September 2023. 3eib is a community-led platform, on a mission ‘to encourage the authentic expression of cultural identity, and elevate the SWANA fashion industry to a level of global recognition’. The launch event was certainly a masterclass in community and authentic expression, crafted in such a way as to feel inclusive and attractive to those from outside SWANA as well.
Reference Point 180 provided a fun, dynamic backdrop to an event that seamlessly fused community, culture, fashion, poetry, music and politics, and the set up was adapted beautifully for each medium.
The panel discussion between Nol Collective, Isis Dunya, Celine Dagher, Beyt Ahlam, and hosted by Drew Demetry shined a spotlight on the inspiration behind each brand, the designers’ creative processes, production, sustainability and the politics of fashion. Nol Collective emphasised the importance of collaboration in both the creative process and production; as well as with customers, highlighting the opportunities the brand has had to educate their customer base on the realities of living under occupation in Palestine with each purchase.
Isis Dunya’s approach to designing on models rather than drawing, and prioritisation of sustainability in a thoughtful and practical way provided an inspiring insight into the future of fashion. Another stand out was Beyt Ahlam’s discussion of LGBT+ identity and the difference between western and SWANA expressions of the same. Each panellist’s distinct view and the ways in which the countries their businesses are based in impacts their work, was an excellent showcase of the diversity, resourcefulness and unique culture of SWANA fashion.
The discussion was followed by an incredible poetry set by Riwa Saab. Her fusion of poetry, music and sound brought a focused hush over the busy room. The use of Arabic and English, and the inclusion of work from Selma Dabbagh’s anthology We Wrote in Symbols powerfully centred Riwa’s work, and the evening, within an ancient tradition, and brought Arab women’s cultural heritage into sharp focus.
A fashion show, featuring ten looks styled by 3eib, was the climax of the night. Each piece was beautifully crafted, and the representative modelling line-up wore each look with an artful flare. Having set out to reclaim the word ‘3eib,’ meaning shame or disgrace in Arabic, the expression in each walk brought an incredible energy to the runway, and proudly cemented 3eib as a safe space for all.
DJ sets by the all-female line-up of Basma, Olivia Melkonian, Habibti Nation and music by Bint Mbareh lent a joyful framing to this celebration of SWANA fashion, art and culture.
Photos courtesy of reviewer Layla Ali.