For much of western Europe, the breadth of Middle Eastern culture exists outside of the imagination. Kadib.com is here to change that. Launched in September 2019, the site is a marketplace for Persian artists, designers, and craftspeople of all kinds, bringing them together to share their unique style with the world. Curated by founder Kamelia Adib, the site boasts dozens of designers located across the Persian diaspora. Schön! spoke with Adib about her motivation for launching the site and where she sees it going in the future.
What was the inspiration for creating a platform like Kadib?
I left Iran in 2006 at the age of seventeen and instantly I started my Bachelor’s degree in Advertising and Communication at the American University of Sharjah. In 2012, I moved from Dubai to London to pursue my studies and started my first Master’s degree at Greenwich University in Media Communication. At this stage, I was developing a more vivid perception of my passion and professional career path, so I decided to study an MBA in Luxury Brand Management at Glasgow Caledonian University in London. Consequently, I also did a short course in fashion styling in Central Saint March University. After four years of living in London, I moved back to Tehran and started the first Online Fashion Shop in Persia. In the five years that I was running this platform, I had the pleasure of working with talented Persian designers as well as importing pieces from European brands for the online platform.
The inspiration for the Kadib shop was really sparked by my various travels in different parts of the world. I would randomly get stopped by people asking me about the pieces that I was wearing. These were unique pieces that were designed and produced by the Persian designers I was already working with, and what made them so special was how they were all inspired by Persian culture and heritage. That’s when it hit me that it’s so unfortunate that these incredible talents and unique designers were not being seen outside of Persia, as if they didn’t have a voice globally due to sanctions imposed on Persia. I took it upon myself to help and represent these designers to show the world how extremely gifted they are with my previous work experience and background in this field. These designers are distinctive because they have a lot to say in their designs, looking back and taking inspiration from the ancient heritage in Persia, which therefore creates a unique place for them with their designs.
Are you personally an artist? If so, what kind?
I am an entrepreneur. I was always inspired by artists and their work which has led to creating different platforms for them to represent them and showcase their work.
Do you contact designers or do designers contact you?
In the beginning, we approached designers who we already had experience working with and who were credible in the Fashion industry. Now that we are more well-known and we have a bigger audience, we are being approached by Persian designers in different parts of the world who want to be seen and showcase their work. Due to political sanctions, Persian designers are limited in presenting their work, and our mission is to create an environment where we can promote and present these designs across the world. Other than our online platform, we extend our horizons through attending various Fashion events, and we also display some of our pieces in concept stores and pop-up shows across Europe and the Middle East. Berlin Fashion Week was one of the events that we participated in where we got to meet different fashion buyers to collaborate with and distribute our collections.
Are most designers/artists from the diaspora or located in Iran?
All of the designers that we work with are Persian living and working in different parts of the world, including Europe, the Middle East, and the United States.
So how many designers are you currently working with?
Currently, we are working with more than fifty Persian designers who are located all over the globe.
Why do you think it is so important for the Persian diaspora to have a platform to celebrate their heritage and culture?
We are from an old heritage of 3,000 years where so many types of arts and crafts were born. These techniques and traditions carry a vast history, and we feel the need for them to be seen and experienced. A lot of the pieces in our collections are inspired by Abbasid and Safavid dynasties that date back to 1501.
What do you want our readers to know about your platform or Persian art generally?
Kadib has a collection where all pieces are handmade and one of a kind with culturally inspired craftsmanship; everything you find on our platform is for people who are tired of things that are commercialised and are looking for pieces that have a different voice and stand out. Our collections are a getaway from the overly-seen trends and pieces that we see in fashion globally. We select every piece carefully to ensure that they create the spark we strive for.
What are your plans for the future of Kadib?
One of the things we are focusing on in the future is adding more authentic techniques and methods in our collections from villages and suburbs in Iran by working with women in these areas who struggle with jobs and their daily life. These techniques include needlework, embroidery, and craftsmanship that are specific to their regions. By incorporating these, we get a chance to create jobs in these areas for women in need, and we also keep these traditions and techniques alive so the rest of the world can get to see it too.
videography. Daniel Farzam