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A Stitch in Time: SEP Jordan

SEEN had the most inspiring time recently talking to the founders of SEP Jordan, a Social Enterprise Project based in the Jerash refugee camp, where skilled embroiderers are reviving their ancient heritage and rebuilding their lives by hand-embroidering high-quality materials to be made into garments, accessories and homewares, for sale globally.

The ladies of Jerash camp – many of whom were depressed and traumatised when they first arrived – are now able to build a business by devoting themselves to exquisite cross-stitch embroidery, thereby bettering their financial and psychological circumstances in the short and long-term. Everyone benefits; the ladies’ families and also the wider community.


The designs are based on traditional Islamic patterns, in which there is to be found a spirituality that reaches across all social and religious divides. Mathematics is, after all, the language of the Universe. These intricate and hypnotic patterns are created entirely by hand. Other heart and flower motifs are created using techniques that were thought to be extinct: a powerful metaphor for survival. From tote bags and bright red-patterned scarves to waffle towels and treasurable cashmere scarves; a painstaking process of experimentation and rigorous quality control means that if you look after your SEP Jordan item, you’ll have it for years.


SEP Jordan has also been involved – in embroidering entirely freehand – garments in the upcoming film on the life of Mary Magdalene. The techniques used for the film’s costumes date from biblical times. Set to be released in 2017, the film stars Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix and Chiwetel Ejiofor.


SEP is due to set up a permanent shop in Maison Objet in Paris, next year, and is available in small boutiques in London. Their true home though must surely be Liberty or Selfridges. The quality is second-to-none, the products are truly beautiful and made with the proper regard to the environment and sustainability. Added to that the knowledge that the money the customer spends goes back in to giving refugees a chance to rebuild their lives makes SEP Jordan a brand to be admired, and an exemplar of how fashion can be a force for beneficial change on so many levels.


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