Fashion option explored


A passion for fashion has connected some former Syrian refugees with the Otago Polytechnic Design School.
Those with interest or experience in the fashion and design industry were given a tour of the design school classrooms last Friday.
Polytech design school head Caroline Terpstra said the orientation was a chance for the polytechnic to collaborate with the former refugees and see how it could support them.
‘‘We thought one way we could do that is to offer them access to equipment and space,’’ she said.
Mrs Terpstra said the relationship would be a ‘‘twoway opportunity’’, acknowledging that many of the former refugees came with a wealth of skills and experience which would be useful in a student environment
‘‘I’m sure it will happen organically,’’ she said.
Red Cross employment adviser Jarrah Cooke said many of the Syrian community had identified fashion and design as their career of choice and came from jobs in the fashion industry back home.
‘‘The Otago Polytech continues to be hugely supportive,’’ he said.
Hana Alkhalil, a talented embroiderer, said she was ‘‘so, so excited’’ as she had plans to put on an exhibition in March next year which ‘‘expresses Syrian culture’’, and access to the Design School would allow this to happen.
The tour had also encouraged some of the others to collaborate with her for the exhibition, she said.
Mohamad Abdailah Lababidi, who had experience in the Syrian fashion industry, said western fashion was very different to fashion in Syria, which was much more conservative, and he would like to design garments which would merge both cultures and be ‘‘suitable for New Zealand and Syrian women’’.