We all know and love the classic Palestinian Kufiya: a piece of our identity, noticeable from all around the world. In our hearts and on our sleeves, the Kufiya represents loyalty to our Palestinian roots, serves as a reminder of our independence, and cherishes our love for our rightful homeland.
The meaning of the Kufiya is personal to everyone, but to us at PaliRoots, we recognize every threaded difference to hold a story. The bold pattern on the scarf represents trade-routes going through Palestine, symbolizing a long history of merchants, travel, and cultural exchange, while the fishnet appearance represents affinity towards the Palestinian sailor and the connection with the Mediterranean Sea. And the oh-so-special olive leaves represent strength, resilience, and perseverance. The olive tree is nearly synonymous with the Palestinian land, spirit, and culture.
Underneath all of it’s historical beauty, the Kufiya plays a role in Palestinian resistance too - and its symbol was once so appropriated and manipulated around the world that it shut down the original Palestinian Hirbawi Factory. When it comes to “fashion”, cultural appropriation is difficult to control because many unethical and fast fashion companies start to populate their own versions of a style or product. Thousands of Kufiyas have been Made in China and sold on sites like Amazon and Shein. And although many of these product reviews have been noted as “cheap quality” with “improper stitching”, the fast fashion world still attains more sales than authentic brands and companies that the Kufiya actually comes from! In fact, designer brands like Fendi and Louis Vuitton have also appropriated their own take on the Kufiya print through $800 designer scarves. This tone-deaf production served up extreme controversy last year, which you can read about here.
Because of this Kufiya fetish for profit by foreign imports, original Kufiya businesses have faced many business obstacles and ongoing struggles. The Hirbawi Textile Factory, located in Hebron, Palestine, had been going on 50 years of being a unified family business. However, due to the rise of Chinese production of Kufiyas, Hirbawi Textiles had noticed their business slowing down. At much cheaper and rapid production, foreign merchants will sell Kufiyas for 50% less, and thus their intent for profit - over culture and history - wins. Because of this, many employees had to leave the Palestinian factory - and the 17-18 hour work days became much more intensive on those remaining. The last standing Kufiya factory in Palestine had shut down for five years, heartbroken it would be forever. Thankfully, the Hirbawi family decided to try again and succeeded, still standing happily today on the same plot of land their inspiration started in.
The Hirbawi factory is more than a place of production: it is a symbol of resilience, resistance, and strength in the face of overwhelming odds. It is a place to celebrate the Palestinian culture through accents on one’s backs. The factory also serves as a reminder to support domestic economies whenever possible, where passion and perseverance are sewn into every thread of each Hirbawi Kufiya. It is incredibly important to recognize authentic businesses and local markets, and we want to protect you from spending your money on unsustainable and cheap labor markets! We recommend scrolling through our PaliRoots site for REAL Kufiyas (made by Hirbawi Artisanship) and Kufiya designs so that you can have the confidence to know that your purchase will be 100% authentic and ethical.
Happy Kufiya Day PaliRooters!