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GQ – Salim Azzam is Reviving Lebanese Artisanship With Its Handcrafted Garments

In an era of fast fashion and mass production, Lebanese label Salim Azzam is taking a road less travelled. A peek behind its production process won’t show complex industrial machinery. Instead, it reveals women sitting beside each other in their homes, placing each stitch with their own hands with precision.

Raised in Mount Lebanon’s Chouf region – the same village as these women – designer Salim Azzam was surrounded by the esoteric, ethnoreligious Druze community who are characterised by the classic black and white veils that they hand-stitch and wear. Inspired by their dedication to craft, Azzam puts these women at the centre of his brand, relying on their years of experience and expertise to handcraft and embroider his designs and in doing so, breathe new life into an age-old traditional practice.

salim azzam@muhmdaoun wears the FW21 horses shirt. Photo: @azzamsalim

How did the brand begin?

Salim Azzam is a product of a small remote mountain in Lebanon. A place where time stands still; where people are connected to nature and live a self-sustainable life far away from the hustle and bustle of urbanism. The women of Mount Lebanon are born makers and artisans and take pride in their craft.

We created our brand to channel the skills and creativity of these women, who take pride in their work and whose knowledge is their weapon, and to share their gift with the world. We utilise fashion as a tool to reimagine and revive the skills of artisan communities across different regions in Mount Lebanon. 

salim azzamPhoto: @azzamsalim

What is the inspiration behind your design aesthetic?

Our work stems from our rural roots, inspired by the remote, slow, and self-sustainable mountain life, in which I grew up in. We at Salim Azzam make ready-to-wear garments that pay homage to the true humble habits of the locals of Mount Lebanon. Clean-cut tailoring inspired by the local white and black attires with interactive embroidery work adorning each piece.

Photo: @azzamsalim

What role do the women who make the garments play in the brand?