Eyal Eliyahu and Amit Luzon have no formal training in the fashion and textile industries.
But in a region racked with socio-political turmoil, the creative pair saw a mechanism for reconciliation when Middle Eastern craftsmanship fused with high-end streetwear — building blocks for the socially conscious label that became ADISH.
“We were interested in using fashion as a medium to change things, specifically in our region, which is kind of a mess,” the pair said.
Eliyahu was working as a graphic designer while Luzon helped with his mom’s international beauty business before they started on the project.
One of the first things they noticed, they said, was that so many traditional arts and crafts in the Middle East had never been brought “to a wider audience in a contemporary way.” They weren’t, in other words, mainstream.
ADISH has capitalized on that with garments featuring traditional embroidery hand-sewn by women in the West Bank, many of whom live in refugee camps.
That partnership stems from Eliyahu and Luzon’s first trip to Palestine, where they met the first three women with whom they’d work through a grassroots organization called The Parents Circle-Families Forum. The organization is for Palestinian and Israeli families who have lost immediate family members amid the densely polarized Israeli-Arab conflict in the region.
The pair saw a way to highlight that situation through their garments — and that was only the beginning.
Since its first collection launched in 2018, ADISH has been steadily building a name for itself as an “ethical streetwear label” (Indie), the “Israeli streetwear brand calling for freedom in the West Bank” (i-D Vice), and the “brave streetwear brand championing Israeli-Palestinian peace” (Sleek).
According to Eliyahu and Luzon, the raw materials are sourced from manufacturers in Japan, Italy and Turkey while all of the sewing is done in local factories in both Israel and Palestine.
The embroidery stage is a bit more complex — groups of women typically numbering ten or more work from the Dheisheh and Arroub refugee camps, the village of Beit Ummar and the city of Ramalah completing orders.
They are overseen by a group leader who distributes the work, explains the methodology and required measurements, picks up the garments once they’re finished and performs the first quality check.
For the craftswomen involved, Eliyahu and Luzon said the partnership brings substantial value. They receive an income but can work at home with no set hours or office. The individual embroidery designs also present a welcome challenge, as the patterns and colors are different than what’s commonly used.
And perhaps most importantly, they said it cultivates a different image of the Israelis for Palestinians who previously saw them only as the enemy. The pair identifies the partnership not as appropriation but rather as an appreciation and acknowledgement of Palestinian cultural values.
The future vision for ADISH includes more collaborations and workshops of local craftsmanship beyond embroidery, and the Autumn/Winter 2019 collection is a testament to that with products woven by Bedouin women in the Negev Desert.
ADISH is currently partnered with retailers in Europe, North American and Asia, including Voo Store, Dover Street Market, Slam Jam and Opening Ceremony.
Next up is the growth of its wholesale and e-commerce businesses, both of which will require ADISH to maintain a stable production structure — “an important goal of ours due to our work with handmade craftsmanship detailing,” Eliyahu and Luzon said.
What the brand stands for:
“Adish” translates to apathetic or indifferent in Hebrew. Its founders branded the label with a touch of irony. “To us, ADISH is about trying to make a real, meaningful change in the Middle East, and not giving attention to the empty promises of politicians and those in power who don’t care about peace and coexistence.”
Country of origin:
Eyal Eliyahu and Amit Luzon
Retail price points:
800 euros for coats and jackets; 400 euros for trousers; 150 euros for T-shirts and 250 euros for hoodies