Designer Gina Barjeel is hoping to empower women through her fashion line, which incorporates traditional Jordanian and Palestinian embroidery.
For an up-and-coming fashion designer, showcasing your creations on a catwalk in front of industry professionals is a big deal, but it’s an opportunity that may not come immediately.
Jordanian Gina Barjeel migrated to Australia in 2018 and launched her own fashion line soon after.
After she spent significant time perfecting her brand and designs, she was selected to take part in a multicultural fashion show during one of the country’s premier horse racing events, the Golden Eagle, in Sydney.
The event in October was organised by Fabrics of Multicultural Australia and the Australian Turf Club, to showcase designers from diverse backgrounds and their pieces that incorporate traditional features from their cultures.
Hoping to highlight her own heritage, Barjeel used Jordanian and Palestinian embroidery in her designs.
“We designed the collection in a harmony with the Australian culture. We received positive feedback and many attendees were amazed and delighted seeing these cultures blend beautifully in a racing event,” she said.
She believes adding these elements to modern fashion reflects "pride in our heritage" and sees her designs as a way to showcase Middle Eastern culture to a wider audience, and to empower other women to chase their dreams.
She turned to her first love – fashion – soon after arriving in Australia when employment was difficult to secure.
“I submitted a lot of applications, but I could not find a job. Then I started thinking about returning to fashion design; the field closest to my heart as I have loved it since childhood."
While setting up her studio, she met a group of refugee women who were living in Wollongong, 86km south of Sydney.
From their chats, she realised they too had trouble entering the labour market, so she decided to start working with them.
The young designer benefitted from the expertise of the women in sewing and started implementing what she learned to her own designs.
“Now three women are working with me on a part-time basis and I hope to be able to employ more ladies when my project takes off. I pledged to support them till the end.”
Barjeel says her sympathy for refugee women stems from her own experiences.
"I remembered what I heard from my parents about the difficulties they had faced when they fled Palestine to Jordan and the tireless efforts, they made to secure a decent living standard for us."
Through her brand that bears her name, she seeks to empower women eager to explore career opportunities in the fashion industry.