Erbil is the capital city of Iraqi Kurdistan - a region of Iraq bordered by Iran to the East, Turkey to the North, and Syria to the West.
Erbil is also home to many refugees - including Christians - fleeing ISIL, and is located exactly 47 miles from Mosul.
One year ago (February, 2016), within this very peculiar environment, 22 young men decided to create Iraq’s very first gentleman’s club, and named the club “Mr Erbil”.
Back then, the whole region was in even greater turmoil than today : on the frontline of the fight against ISIL and prey to a hostile economical environment—with efforts to preserve the city’s citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, halting to a standstill.
Despite the less-than-ideal circumstances of the time, the Mr Erbil Gentleman’s Club arranged to host its first photoshoots around the city’s spectacular sights.
Since then, the club continues to host frequent gentlemen’s gatherings, during which they pose tirelessly for local photographs, as Pitti peacocks are wont to do (with the Pitti Uomo trade show being the reference which members of Mr Erbil wear on their sleeves - as they have even staged their own version of the famous Pitti wall on which to sit and pose).
This beautiful initiative is destined to give the world another vision of Iraq in general, and Kurdistan in particular…but the group has greater ambitions.
One of the Mr Erbil’s founders explains that, beyond the various photoshoots aimed at trending on social media, they have many projects in the works such as offering “etiquette classes” to members, opening a sartorial photography and mannequin agency, a barbershop, a tailor’s workshop and even a line of clothing !
As you may guess, raising funds for such an ambitious project in the isolated region remains a challenge for Mr Erbil.
But we believe that Mr Erbil might just make it. With 38 000 followers on Instagram and 10 000 fans on Facebook, the group should manage to catch the right investor’s eye - investors whom are willing to give a fair chance to a group of highly passionate and determined young gentlemen.
The challenge of the group will be to go beyond the obvious exotic show-and-tell side of the project. What these young men need are sponsors who will see them not just as “oriental peacocks” trying to imitate the excesses of the Pitti Uomo, but as a genuine enterpreneurial project which needs support to blossom within a region desperately seeking to promote a more elegant way of living.
Whatever may happen, we at PG love the initiative. It shows, once again, that style and substance can (and should) go hand in hand to produce small miracles in a world which really, really needs them.
Hats off, guys.
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