Adish is the long-awaited answer for today’s cool crowd drawn to initiatives embodying inclusivity and an effortless spirit.
Words by Meryl Fontek
Photos by Alon Shastel
Styling by Simon Elmalem
Adish, a high-end streetwear label, photographed their debut collection in Jisr az-Zarqa, the last remaining Arab village on the Mediterranean coast of Israel. Jisr az-Zarqa is one of the most impoverished places in the country and is home to both a crime-ridden village and a sleepy beach, unblemished by time. Collection 001 was shot amidst the authentic fisherman’s beach, replete with wooden boats, their color nearly stripped away, rocking back and forth with the tide at the sea’s shoreline.
Childhood friends, Amit Luzon and Eyal Eliyahu had always dreamed of founding a creative endeavor together. The pair, both 25 years old, met in Ramat HaSharon, where they attended the same high school. Following their army service, the duo traveled through North and South America and began ideating about their future. Inspired by the fashion they encountered during their travels, they initially thought to open a store in Israel with one-off pieces imported from abroad. Upon further consideration Luzon and Eliyahu decided to explore and utilize their own surroundings, rather than outsource for inspiration. With a shared love for Middle Eastern craftsmanship stemming from their respective familial origins, Libya and Iraq, regional insignia was always that to which each was drawn.
“At the end of 2016, we realized there weren’t any authentic Middle Eastern brands with an international reach representing the region and its culture. That’s when we decided to start Adish. We began to think about what sort of elements we could utilize in the brand, whether it should be a t-shirt collection or perhaps something larger,” explained co-founders Luzon and Eliyahu. “We wanted to do something different and not just print a slogan on a t-shirt. We had heard about Palestinian embroidery before but didn’t know exactly how to connect with local artisans.” The brand’s name, Adish, which means apathetic in Hebrew, was chosen purposely and sarcastically, and meant to provoke thought and perhaps ignite a sense of responsibility to fuel meaningful reform in the region.
Adish began to take shape once Luzon and Eliyahu were introduced to the Parents Circle-Families Forum (PCFF), an Israeli-Palestinian organization comprised of over 600 families, each having lost an immediate family member to the ongoing conflict. The PCFF promotes dialogue and tolerance between Israelis and Palestinians and connects two groups who under ordinary circumstances, would likely never cross paths. Luzon and Eliyahu learned of a PCFF initiative that supports Palestinian women who work with embroidery and set up a time to meet in person.
The two traveled to Beit Jala, a Palestinian Christian village in the Bethlehem district to meet with three women in their late 50’s, who at the time were only accustomed to embroidering pillows and decorative commercial items. “We sat with them and listened to their stories of how they lost their husbands and sons to the conflict. We wanted these women to be a part of Adish and to give their craft an audience. We left them some t-shirts and hoped they could work with fabrics that aren’t typically embroidered,” Eliyahu recalled.
“After the first few products were completed, we were all thrilled with the results. Now we have more than 50 women collaborating with us, some from PCFF but many from outside the organization,” shared Luzon. The pair explained how originally they thought the traditional embroidery would be just one element of the brand, but upon seeing the results, the embroidery took on a life of its own and became rooted in the blossoming identity of Adish. As part of the partnership with the Palestinian women, all Adish apparel includes information on the care labels identifying the Palestinian traditional embroidery and craftsmanship.
The women who work with Adish are divided into two groups. The first focuses on the production of a collection and the second strategizes the next phase of development for the upcoming season’s collection. The two-year old brand has produced two collections, 001 and Area A. The upcoming Fall/Winter 2019 line will include elements of a new partnership between Adish and a factory in Lakiya, a Bedouin town in the south of Israel, specializing in traditional weaving techniques. The brand prides itself in celebrating and showcasing indigenous craftsmanship and the skilled individuals who immerse themselves in traditional insignia.