Born in Exile is a luxury ready-to-wear label that blends modernity with traditional Libyan designs. It was created in 2017 by Ibrahim Shebani, who, as the brand’s name suggests, was born in exile. The designer grew up moving back and forth between Libya until he was able to settle in his home country in the mid-to-late 90s. Growing up, he was fascinated by fashion and dreamt of specialising in the field, but the opportunity did not arise for him. In an exclusive interview for GRAZIA, Shebani shared that after more than 15 years of working in media and marketing, “I decided to liberate my childhood dream and launch my own brand, inspired by Libyan heritage.” Since then, Shebani has made a name for himself amid a rising Libyan fashion scene. Discover his thoughts on representation, identity, and the fashion community in Libya ahead. 

Courtesy of Born in Exile

What motivated you to mix Libyan culture into your designs?

Ibrahim Shebani: As a Libyan, I’m firstly inspired by my own culture. The details, design references, folklore, and pop culture of Libya are part of who I am as a human and as a designer–they all naturally inspire me to create. I’m also motivated to mix Libyan culture into my designs because Libya is one of the most underrated and unrepresented countries in media and fashion. It makes me even more eager to show its rich culture in my work. 

Courtesy of Born in Exile

How do you see the fashion community in Libya?

IS: Despite the tough time Libya is going through, there is a small yet growing Libyan fashion community, which is extremely inspiring–especially considering that there isn’t even a fashion school in Libya. Plenty of Libyan designers and presenting collections in and outside of Libya, and for the past few years, we have seen a significant increase in models, designers and photographers. 

Courtesy of Born in Exile

What does it mean to express your identity through the designs you produce? 

IS: It means everything. It is very important for me, and for my team, to present modern and innovative work that reflects who we are and represent the environment we come from. Our identity and the brand’s DNA are Libyan, African, Arab, Amazigh, and Mediterranean. 

What feedback have you received on Born in Exile’s designs?

IS: The public likes to see its culture being reflected and represented through design, we always get very positive feedback.

Courtesy of Born in Exile

What Fashion show inspires you the most? 

IS: I am always inspired by fashion shows and fashion houses that have a strong heritage and craftsmanship, also fashion brands that represent a similar story to Born in Exile. I always had an eye on Alaia shows, Loewe, Casablanca, Mugler, and Qasimi.

What is your ambition today?

IS: My ambition is to see Born in Exile grow to become an international brand, selling worldwide and showing its new collection in Paris while keeping production in North Africa.