Roping us back into a world where our clothes are a direct reflection of someone’s heart and soul, Gypsy Soul’s pieces are handmade by the Jabaleya, a Bedouin tribe that resides in Sinai.
There’s “bohemian fashion” that’s mass-produced in a factory far from home, and there’s Gypsy Soul, a homegrown brand that captures the true essence of the nomadic life through fabric and thread. Roping us back into a world where our clothes are a direct reflection of someone’s heart and soul, Gypsy Soul’s pieces are handmade by the Jabaleya, a Bedouin tribe that resides in Sinai.
“The Jabaleya tribe lives in the mountains of St. Catherine. They are what we call the original Gypsies,” founder and designer Mariam El Shobokshy tells #CairoScene. “Each family has its special knowledge for a specific handicraft. When I create a design, each piece travels around all these families so they can all add their art on it until it comes back to the main tailor lady, Mariam, who assembles the final touch on the clothes.”
In return for their work with Gypsy Soul, where they create ponchos, kaftans, and dresses, each family is paid around four times their regular salaries they receive through their traditional livelihoods.
“Since 2011, I moved to Sinai with the wish of finding myself and what I wanted to do with my life. I had the chance to be welcomed by the Bedouin tribes,” El Shobokshy says. “By being by their side on an everyday basis, I rediscovered how to live a more humble and simple life.”
The Jabaleyan women are known for their use of kaleidoscopic colour schemes and pearl embellishments. This style carries over wholesale in Gypsy Soul’s pieces, which can be described as made by Jabaleyan women, for Jabaleyan women. By sharing their pieces with the world, El Shobokshy hopes to give back to the tribe that once welcomed her into their midst.