Three Generations Find Pride and Opportunity in Family Leather Business

by Emily Vega

RABAT, Morocco – Ayoub El Khalifi stands against a wall covered in his family’s handmade traditional leather goods. He wears a black felt fedora hat. Every square inch behind him displays polished and hand crafted leather bags, cushions, belts and more. As customers explore the store, the smell of tanned leather follows them. Hanging from the ceilings and lining the walls, hundreds of designs are displayed.

This traditional craft has provided the El Khalifi family with an escape from a troubled region and livelihood in a country where many young people struggle to find jobs.

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Moroccans Stuck in an Identity Bind

By ANNAMARIE HOULIS Renowned French designer Yves Saint Laurent put Morocco on the fashion map in the 1980s when his famous garden in Marrakech, the Jardin Majorelle, inspired his collections. American designer Michael Kors incorporated Morocco’s bold colors and busy textile patterns in his S/S “Afriluxe” show during New York Fashion Week last year. And American Peter Som’s Resort collection reflected nomadic desserts and exotic Moroccan motifs including a wandering-vine pattern. Morocco is an inspiration for fashion designers around the world, but Moroccan designers have been largely ignored, working in relative obscurity even within their own country.  Read more