The Debonair fashion bloggers known as ‘Mr Erbil’ have put Kurdistan on the fashion map.
In the space of just a few weeks, this group of male fashionistas, named after their hometown of Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, have dominated stylish social feeds, gaining worldwide media coverage for their distinctive look and powerful social statement.
In 2016, the club was founded by a group of young men between the ages of 20 and 30. At that time, many young people were leaving the country because the economy was in a serious crisis, the terrorist militia Islamic State had brought territories only 50 kilometers from Erbil under their control, and the prospect of a bright future wasn’t very convincing.
The picture painted by the media wasn’t pretty, and it was easy to misinterpret what life in Erbil was really all about.
Mr. Erbilʹs desire to change how their country is perceived led them to create a unique fashion platform inspired by their homeland. They demonstrate that everyday life in Kurdistan is by no means dominated by violence; it is a place rich in culture and filled by vibrant, happy people.
Fashion is a means for them to convey this message, and hopefully to promote social reform as a result.
The group describe their sophisticated look as a mix of traditional Kurdish meets Western attire. They use Kurdish fabrics when designing their suits, and use a specific Kurdish fabric for their ties.
Mr. Erbil has launched two products: grey and brown ties made of goatsʹ hair, packaged in handmade wooden boxes; and beard oil accompanied by beard combs to complete the assortment.
Environmental awareness is an important aspect that is taken into consideration when producing the unique creations worn by Mr Erbil, and their efforts have extended to helping boost the local economy with the men having their outfits tailored by local businesses and beard grooming products made locally in Erbil.
The group use Kurdistan’s many beautiful and historical sites as a backdrop for their social media images; exposing Kurdistan’s rich history, peaceful life and boundless potential.
But Mr Erbil is about more than reformed social perceptions about the landscape and daily life. The men are using their huge social media following and global status to reinforce their position on women’s rights as well.
The Middle East has constantly been criticized for being negligent with regard to women’s rights and gender equality. Mr Erbil has used its social media audience to promote awareness of the inspirational accomplishments of women.
A campaign called “Girl Inspiration”, is a weekly post dedicated to sharing women’s achievements in Kurdistan, Iraq and around the world.
It doesn’t stop here. The group plan to expand, and next on the agenda is setting up a studio in Erbil, with a hair salon, cafe and shop.
We hope to see more of Mr Erbil’s fusion fashion, and are looking forward to embracing positive reforms along the way.