Can you walk us through your background and experience?
I’m a Jordanian-Palestinian creative based between Amman and London. I’ve always been into the creative industry, but because Amman is so conservative, some men look at creatives in a shameful way. Boys in Jordan are expected to turn into doctors and lawyers, so I was a bit afraid to tell my dad, “Hey, guess what, Osamah? Engineering is not what I’m going to be doing.” Until I met my wonderful art teacher called Haya, who changed my life forever and made me brave enough to go and tell my family that fashion at Central Saint Martins was what I wanted to be doing after high school. I was shocked by my family’s response as they got very excited and wanted to send me to Parsons, but I felt CSM was more suitable for me. I did my foundation at CSM, then got rejected for my BA, took some time off and did some internships, short courses, Pattern Making Diploma. I applied again and again to CSM, then I finally got in.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m using my time in Jordan to look at artisans from whom I can learn new methods and techniques, which I can take with me to London. I am also building a new research folder filled with amazing historical references. However, I recently noticed that my education in fashion kind of suppressed my education in much more important political issues like Black Lives Matter and even the occupation of my own homeland Palestine, so I am trying my best to educate myself.
You were one of the five winners of Fashion Trust Arabia and won the first Franca Sozzani Debut Talent Award. How did you find the award and how was the application process?
Everyone in the Arab world knows about Fashion Trust Arabia. It is a big event that takes place in Qatar annually. They released an open call and I was told to apply, so I just applied right before the deadline because I didn’t think I’d ever get shortlisted (how funny now that I won the prize?). The application process is very easy, you just fill out a form on the FTA website and after that, your work is forwarded to an Advisory Board, which consists of figures like Tim Blanks, Sarah Mower, Natali Kingham and many more. They review your work and send their selection of designers. On the morning of my birthday in London I got a phone call from Lebanon. I was like, “Who would call me from Beirut?” I answered, and it was Lara Arbid (curator of FTA). She said, “Hey Zeid, this is Lara from Fashion Trust Arabia, we just wanted to tell you congratulations! You just got shortlisted.” I started screaming! When I was told that it was FTA on the phone, I actually thought that they were calling to tell me that I did not make it.