Tala Barbotin Khalidy is a brand working with Lebanese and Syrian artisans to revitalize local endangered craft techniques, challenging perceptions of the Middle East and of handcraft through contemporary clothing and embroidery workshops, by changing their relationship with clothes, where they become an extension of their story and values and are meant to be cherished for years to come.
They value slow creations and mindful design, which is why they only create small batches and made-to-order pieces. Each item is carefully designed in-house in New York, and they then collaborate with local artisans in Lebanon and Syria for specific techniques they excel at (embroidery, crochet, weaving, …). They consider that embroidery and handmade pieces can be an expression of personal identity: their pieces are an outcome of layers of storytelling, ranging from the cultural significance of a motif or fabric to their personal take on a technique or silhouette.
Tala’s first inspiration came from wandering around in her grandmother’s Beirut shop as a kid, a shop filled with soaps, herbs, furniture and clothing from Syria and Lebanon.
Immersed in crafts local to the Levant as a child, Tala came back to them during her years at Parsons School of Design when her grandmother passed, taking a closer look at the richness of textiles from the region and the depth of meaning behind local embroidery motifs and techniques. She then created her namesake brand and sought out to investigate Middle Eastern embroidery techniques. She started working with local artisans in Lebanon and Syria to incorporate these in collections of contemporary clothing as a way to perpetuate local crafts, increase jobs in the field, and reintroduce the area to a Western audience through the lens of culture.
As she was practicing embroidery herself, she noticed that, slowly, the craft gave her time to process her own personal trauma. She then endeavoured to start teaching others how to use the craft therapeutically, starting a pilot program with the Womankind non-profit in 2017, then developing the technique to serve trauma survivors in different NGOs and healing centers. In 2019, she became a certified meditation teacher, and now teaches separate meditation courses in addition to embroidery.