I was shocked to learn that the symbol of Palestinian resistance, the famous keffieh, a traditional chequered black and white scarf, is now mostly produced in China. Demands for the iconic keffieh has grown as it is now a fashionable item, but few people where their scarves are made. There is only one remaining factory in the West Bank producing them, and their trade is slowly dying out because of the cheaper prices of the Chinese competition. Yasser Hirbawi set up his business in 1961, and in its golden days it employed 15 men working full time to produce beautifully crafted, hand finished garments. Now only one employee remains, and Chinese keffiehs are even sold inside of Palestine. Make no mistake: there is no comparison between the paper thin Chinese scarfs with their garish colours, and the original Palestinian ones, the proud result of ancestral techniques, made to last generations.
So where does your keffieh come from? If you want to show your support for the Palestinian struggle, then buy Palestinian!! Let’s support local economies and independant factories, struggling to keep their standards high.Here’s a great little documentary about the Hirbawi family for those who want to learn more: