Emirati menswear label Qasimi helmed by Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi is reissuing its renowned Don’t Shoot T-shirt in a charitable effort to raise funds for Lebanon. During August and September, the brand has pledged to donate all proceeds from online sales of the shirts to Save the Kids International. The charity organization has been working in Lebanon since 1953 to secure shelter, education, protection, food security and rights for children. It estimates that up to one million children – both Lebanese nationals and Syrian refugees – across the country are in need of urgent assistance.
The Don’t Shoot T-shirt is a nod to the ones originally worn by journalists in Lebanon during the 1982 war. Reporters were given a white shirt bearing the text “Don’t Shoot” in English, French, and Arabic in bright red lettering to make them easier to identify and protect them from harm.
This is not the first time the T-shirt has been used to raise money for the Lebanese. Following the deadly port explosion in Beirut on August 4 last year, the London-based label pledged all proceeds from the item would go to the Lebanese Red Cross. The only change Qasimi has made this time is to add its name under the original wording.
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The cotton garment was first released in the London-based brand’s fall 2017 collection. In 2019, however, Georgian designer Demna Gvasalia’s Spring 2020 collection for Vetements garnered attention in the Arab world for featuring the same T-shirt, with many critiquing the brand for seeming to appropriate the issues raised by the conflict. Late brand founder Khalid Al Qasimi said that, apart from seeing an internationally-recognized brand prey on ideas of an emerging label, it is the context that he found disturbing. “I understand what they are doing,” he said, referring to Vetements. “It’s about consumerism. But it’s a complete F-U to the region as well. I used that print to highlight the plight of something going on in the Middle East. For Vetements to use it in such a flippant and provocative manner; I don’t think they realize what these words mean to us Arabs.”
The brand is now spearheaded by his twin sister Sheikha Hoor, who took over the reins following Al Qasimi’s death at the age of 39 in London in July 2019.