Iraq has been through a lot of war – it has been a war-torn country for over two decades. The Gulf War, 1990 – 1991, is the one I remember vaguely – I was very young. Economic sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council resulted not only in the death of half a million of Iraqi children (I can talk about this in length but this is yet another story), but Iraq also lost its ability to trade with the rest of the world. Anything that needed to be imported required approval from the UN Council. Goods related to the military use were forbidden – including the trousers.
At the time I knew nothing about any of the brands. We had no magazines, no TV channels, nothing that could connect us to the rest of the world. I grew up in a big family, according to the European standards; I have 5 siblings and it was really hard for us as a working class family. During the sanctions my father worked 2 different jobs in order to keep the family going. I remember that depending on the money we have had, we could only afford one jumper, two pairs of trousers and two shirts. One set was for school and the other one for festivities. I am and always have been the type to dress well. I would take care of my clothes and keep them in a good condition, which meant that I could wear them the whole year, along with making the most of all the little pieces of clothing I have had.
I was extremely upset when I used to see all the clothes I couldn’t have. Even when I was very little and as far back as I can remember, I used to choose for myself what I wanted to wear while, my brother, cousins and friends would have their mothers choose for them, as you would when you’re so young. The days we would go shopping were the most joyful for me. Yes, it was tiring but I loved it because I had five siblings that needed new clothes, weren’t into fashion, and I could choose what to get for them. As you can tell, fashion wasn’t something I could pursue back in Iraq, a distant dream that was unattainable
Now, look at me! I’m wearing clothes by COS, Zara and Fariba Sultani. Who would have thought that the young boy from Erbil, Iraq, would live in one of the biggest fashion capitals in the world and wear amazing brands?
I’ve always dreamt about it and dreamt big. Now, I know that nothing is impossible.