An American shoe company led by an Israeli guy and with the work of Palestinians handcrafts… Wait! Sounds like a beginning of a joke, right? Hold that thought.
Can we bring peace to the Middle East through FASHION?
If you have been in one of my lectures you probably know the story of the amazing designer, Rozi Ben- Yossef, who after the Six Day War launched her kafiyah dresses collection.
They were beautiful and were made in collaboration with talented weavers from East Jerusalem and Hebron. When people asked her about the collection and the collaboration, she mentioned that this is her way to bridge the gap and to bring peace closer. (I have a side note for that but we will leave it for now).
Last week I had the honor to be invited to the Fashion Footwear Association of NY Shoes Show (Thank you Shahar Azran) and in one of the showrooms I saw a big sign with the words “ Jerusalem Sandals” on it (well Shahar brought it to my attention, thank you again!). Immediately I was curious, Jerusalem? In NYC? What???
I talked with the owner Kfir Matalon, an Israeli who lives in California, and he told me that “Jerusalem Sandals inspired by the sandal making heritage of the ancient land”.
Now, you might think it’s weird wearing shoes that were a big hit in the biblical times, but a quick look to John Patrick and his label Organic by John Patrick runway show, will ensure you that this trend is here to stay.
But even more so, remember the beginning of the joke? Well… IT’S NOT a joke and the shoe line IS handcrafted by Palestinians who work WITH Israeli Jews to create it.
Matalon believes they promote a message of peace, “Even the name of the brand”, he says, “has a meaning: Jeru in Hebrew translates to teach and Salem in both Hebrew and Arabic translates to peace”.
Well… what can I say? I got my pair!
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