Druze fabric stack Druze fabric stack A stack of colorful rugs made in Abu Antar's Druze fabric factory. (Photos by Erez Kaganovitz/Humans of Tel Aviv)

Colorful Druze fabric is rich in family tradition

The handbags and totes popular in online stores originated in a tranquil mountain village.

You've probably seen totes and handbags made out of the colorful Druze fabric on Etsy or Pinterest. The durable fabric (a blend of cotton and acrylic) is dyed in bright colors arranged in geometric designs that give an eye-catching 3D effect.

But you might not know that the man who invented the fabric is Abu Antar, a resident of a tranquil village located on Mount Carmel in Israel, and the name comes from the traditional community, called Druze, to which he belongs.

Druze fabric cuttingA factory worker cuts some of Abu Antar's Druze fabric.

"My family came here 250 years ago and settled down in this village," Antar told The Grapevine. "Because our house was on the main road we always had a store, you can say it was a kind of a drugstore. I wanted the store to have an additional value. That's where the idea of selling our own Druze fabric came from."

Abu AntarAbu Antar, creator of Druze fabric, poses with some handbags made from his famous material.

"I thought we should produce a fabric which will represent the rich Druze culture in the best way we can. I took patterns and symbols from our culture and started printing them on the fabric that we sold," he said. "In our patterns, you can see Druze swords, hamsa (a hand-shaped amulet) and even horseshoes, which symbolize good fortune. I'm proud that all cultures in this region have a representation in our fabric designs."

Druze fabric sewingA worker at the sewing machine at Abu Antar's Druze fabric factory.

"The name Druze fabric was given in the 1970s to my fabric by the designers of the leading brand Maskit, who were located In Tel Aviv," he says. "The designers of Maskit appreciated my fabric, and because I was the face behind it, they started to call it the Druze fabric."

Druze fabric cutting 2A worker hand-cutting Druze fabric.

Antar continued, "I created something that didn't exist before and had the privilege my own designs would be named after my great heritage. I still have customers telling me that even after 20 years they still use our products."

Druze fabric tasselsA worker at the Druze fabric factory attaches colorful tassels to handbags.

The factory is a bright profusion of textiles and sewing machines, and the workers come mainly from Antar's family. There is a feeling of unity and a sense that the workers are proud of their craftsmanship.

Druze fabric pillowsPillows for sale at the Druze fabric factory store in Daliat el Carmel.

Abu Antar's daughter Jasmin gives me a big smile when I ask about the family business. "We are making a unique fabric, which is world renowned. I feel I'm part of a bigger story because I keep the tradition alive," she says.

Druze fabric rugsRugs at the Druze fabric factory store.

According to Abu Antar, the factory creates more than 300 products, ranging from the popular bags to pillows, vests and even bed covers. "Anything you imagine we can produce," he says. "I always keep my mind open so I don't worry about making new designs. As long as I will keep my eyes open, there will be new designs."

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