HOW IS HERFA MADE?
Our variety shirts, hoodies, and onesies are produced by the apparel brands Mlabbas or Jobedu in their factories in Jordan. All apparel is all 100% Cotton and of a very high quality that is a little bit stretchy (on par with Alternative Apparel). Both brands also sell their own Arab pop-culture inspired screen printed designs apparel all over the Middle East and in the USA. Jobedu as three super cool Amman shops and Mlabbas has two and both sell online. Check out their stuff!
Our hats are unisex and are one-size fits all; they are imported as there are no hat factories in Jordan. Currently, we use Yupoong "Classics" snapbacks (made in Vietnam) and 5-panel hats (made in Bangladesh) - these are high quality hats that are commonly used by surf and skate companies like Roxy and Hurley. We import these to Jordan. The high-quality and super comfortable beanie hats are made in China and we currently buy them in the Balad (downtown Amman).
Our high-quality embroidered pockets and patches are designed in their custom size and shape by Herfa Heritage and inspired by traditional Arab designs, which are commonly of Palestinian origin. They are handmade by women in Jordan in their homes who are employed by two women's empowerment cooperatives - Bawabet Al-Sharq and Tribalogy.
NOTE: The women are not featured in our Kickstarter video on purpose; we were asked not to film them as it is considered shameful or not customary in the Middle East. Hopefully we will find women that are open to doing an interview with us in the future.
Bawabet Al-Sharq is a well respected Jordanian workshop with over 25 years of experience with embroidery. They employ 107 women and create all kinds of traditional, embroidered clothing and home items and sells them all over the Middle East. Most of the embroidery sold in the Amman airport is theirs. They also have a great a store on Rainbow Street in Amman. Visit their website here.
Tribalogy is a social business based in Amman that is in partnership with the NGO Joria. They train local Jordanian and Syrian refugee women in the embroidery crafts and employ them with regular work. They sell handbags, purses, book covers, coasters, and many more products that feature embroidery and/or Middle Eastern fabrics. They sell their items online and in stores, including the two Mlabbas stores in Amman, and at bazaars in Jordan.
After we get the pockets and the apparel matched up, we work with experienced local tailors with expertise in sewing items onto cotton clothing and other fabrics. We use very small needles so that the pockets do not tear on the shirts. Embroidery is made of the cotton "etamine" fabric, silk thread, and nylon backing.
Can you tell the difference between the top two and bottom two photos? We bet you can. The top two feature machine-made embroidery - the embroidery looks very angular, too perfect, and doesn't have the same character, feel, and human touch. But the real problem is that it cuts out the women who make their livings and feed their families by keeping the beautiful handicraft tradition alive in the 21st century.
The bottom two photos are handmade embroidered Herfa Heritage pockets. All of our embroidery is and will always be handmade!
Machine-made embroidered items and household items are much less expensive, especially the embroidered dresses with lot of coverage, so some people to prefer them for that reason, or they like the "machine" look. If you are shopping for handmade embroidery in the region, be aware of the differences - it should be very obvious.