1. Who is/are tRASHY?
tRASHY is a Palestinian brand that breaks stereotypes put upon the MENA region and provokes bigotry through fashion. The tRASHY goal is to reclaim the Arab and Palestinian Identity and reclaim what is considered different, cheap, and trashy in modern culture.
2. How did tRASHY come about?
tRASHY was founded by Shukri Lawrence back in summer 2017. He wanted to create a brand that would express the MENA region and represent its communities. In 2018, the team grew with Omar Braika, Reem Kawasmi, Luai Al-Shuaibi, and Sereen Khass. We were then invited to showcase our very first RTW collection at Berlin Fashion Week ’18, and that was the first collection we’ve worked on together.
3. Introduce us to the team.
Shukri Lawrence is a creative director/music video director/artist/designer with works for publications like i-D, Vice, Paper Magazine, Highsnobiety, Nylon Mag, MyKali and more. His work revolves around creating a new form of kitsch culture inspired by the Arab World and the internet.
Omar Braika is a film director, photographer, and designer, he has worked and started film and media projects revolving around Syrian refugees with NGOS such as SAMS, Word Vision, and JEN. His goal with his work is to help others and bring change to this world.
Reem Kawasmi is an entrepreneur with a wide range of experience in the fields of beauty, multimedia, business, and fashion. While earning a degree in project management, she freelances as a makeup artist, has been a member of multiple production teams, and maintains a stable role within the tRASHY CLOTHING design team.
Luai Al-Shuaibi is a full time student and manager who strives to create a balance between both his academics and career as an entrepreneur, currently finishing a degree in Criminology and International Relations, and soon beginning a degree in law. His appreciation of his culture and identity as an Arab motivated him to join the tRASHY team as a stable member whereas he aims to apply both academic and career experiences within the group.
Sereen Khass has experience in fashion and styling through works in multiple projects in films, music videos, and fashion brands. As a PR/stylist in tRASHY, she can express herself freely being that her beliefs are highly compatible with the brand and the message it conveys.
4. How do you manage to work collectively as a team of 5?
We’re all really united by our vision, and we’re close friends, so we share a creative and emotional bond together when we work. We have a messenger group which we consider our virtual office because we are rarely in the same location together.
5. What inspires tRASHY?
The beauty of the MENA region, the people, the cultures, the online subcultures, and Palestine.
6. You are constantly pushing boundaries when it comes to new campaign ideas, clothing and collaborations. How do these ideas come to life?
With every new collection we release, we love to open discussions and take our audience through experiences. From time to time, we sit together and write down a list of things we have in mind and would like to talk about, and slowly come up with a theme that fits it! For our XD collection, our brainstorming sessions were filled with our childhood stories of growing up in Palestine (or outside of Palestine in Jordan as a refugee like one of our team members) and having to understand the occupation we’re living under, meanwhile watching the Western world through television living a much different life. To explore all of that, we took inspiration from the year 2010, and used Scene Kid culture as our way to highlight the year and the confusions we’ve had to find answers to as tweens.
7. How did the Hatari x tRASHY collab come about?
Hatari’s goal at this year’s controversial Eurovision is what united us. Before the Eurovision week started, they’ve reached out to collaborate with us on the fashion they’d be wearing throughout the week. So if you look at their appearances, performances, and their press conferences they were almost always repping Palestine by wearing some tRASHY gear. They’ve become our muse and having them model our XD campaign and bring back scene kid culture with us was a dream.
8. Do you have a favorite tRASHY collection? If so, which one is it and why?
The team’s common favorite collection is ‘XD’. This collection has been such a journey for us, from exploring our tween years and reviving scene kid culture, to fighting for looks like the hijab look to appear on platforms, although it was considered politically challenging for them. This collection is the ultimate 2010 celebration and it felt right to release it in the final year of this decade.
9. What has been the most surreal moment in your career thus far?
Every year had its surreal moment really; 2017 the launch of tRASHY through Paper magazine, 2018 the Desert Eagle show in Berlin, 2019 Hatari and the Eurovision.
10. Who is the tRASHY customer?
Unapologetic, politically aware, loves kitschy art, 4ever online, and loves Palestine <3
11. Who does tRASHY look up to and why?
M.I.A, Pussy Riot, Saria Al Sawas, Hatari, Mary Boyoi, Off Bloom, Haifa Wehbe, and Discobitch. Basically artists that are fearlessly expressing their sexuality, beliefs, and aren’t afraid to get political in their work.
12. What are the challenges, you face in the Middle East today?
Being based in both Palestine and Jordan, the biggest challenges we face is lack of resources, especially in Palestine. We’ve managed to balance our work through both countries and create our own production system though.
13. What sets tRASHY from the rest in the fashion market/industry?
Our take on fashion is what sets us apart. We see fashion as a tool of expression through different mediums like photography, music, videos, installations, paintings, etc. For example, our SS18 show in Berlin, we’ve built a separation wall on one side of the runway to block the view of the audience on the other side to highlight the injustice we face in Palestine. We love to create worlds for the clothes that we make with each collection, it inspires us to use the team’s different talents.
14. Have you faced any setbacks considering you are one of the few Palestinian brands to emerge on the international fashion market?
So far we’ve had no setbacks, (there’s been some racism here and there though).
15. How does tRASHY fight for the LGBTQ+ Arab/Palestinian representation?
As a team consisting of mostly queer creatives, our fight for LGBTQ representation is always alive within our work. We’ve had drag queens, trans, and queer Arabs work with us ever since we’ve started, and it is so beautiful to express ourselves together in the safe space we’ve created for ourselves.
16. Drawing on the previous question, how does the region usually respond?
From time to time we get some hate comments or DMs but we usually pay them no mind. There’s no need to justify ourselves to anyone and especially because our existence and work will speak for ourselves. In order to make change, someone has to feel uncomfortable.
17. How does tRASHY navigate the roads of a saturated fashion market? & what advice would you give to other Middle Eastern designers?
We just work 24/7! In a market like this you need to be on top of your game always, and the smaller the team, the more roles everyone has to play. The most important factor in all of this is the message of the brand. If you have a strong message and identity, nothing will stop you navigate the roads of the market.
18. Where do you see tRASHY going in the future?
Still spreading the tRASHY message worldwide.
19. What advice would you give to a young Middle Eastern reader wanting to pursue a career in the arts?
Start today! Pursue what you’ve been planning on pursuing from today. If your close circle is not supportive of your choices, prove them wrong. Your culture, your surroundings, and where you come from should be your main source of inspiration. Do not fall into the trap of making pretty art with no depth or context, and use art as a method of storytelling.
20. What would you say is the ultimate tRASHY goal?
To bring Palestine and the Arab World to mainstream pop culture. We are now doing shows around the globe, and until we accomplish our goal destinations, we will do a show in in our home, Palestine. From Palestine to the world, from the Arab World to the world!
21. Anything else you'd like to mention?
We’ve just released our final drop of the year (the Hatari x tRASHY collection!!) and already working on what is next. 2020 is going to be a massive year for tRASHY, we’ve got a few surprises up our sleeves, and an exciting show in March, Stay tuned!
Interview by: ILNA COLLECTIVE
Creative Direction & Photography: @zaid.artist