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Behind The Name


Behind the name...

Growing up in Amman and Abu Dhabi, I had the absolute privilege of experiencing the rich and diverse synergistic nature of these cultural crossroads. A common motif in the Arab experience is one of confusion and uncertainty. Arab identity is a permanent low dose of adrenaline. It’s simultaneously the elation of waking up on the first day of Eid and the pain of everlasting war and conflict in the region. 

Having been formally educated in English for the better part of my life, I always wondered if I qualified to claim Arabic as my native tongue, and I’m not the only one. Kan is a product of identity crisis, an effort to turn frustration into art. The Arab diaspora is saturated with young and powerful individuals that oftentimes find it difficult to categorize themselves in a world with a growing obsession with identity politics. The beauty of multicultural upbringings and backgrounds is the liberation from the confines of the conventional. 

For our non-Arabic speaking followers, Kan is the transliterated Arabic word كان, meaning was. It’s a terse expression of the nostalgia that I as well as many other expatriated Arabs experience for life back home. It also refers to the transformational process that each garment we work on undergoes. 

As Arabs who came to the States for college, we sometimes feel like we’re missing out on the tragedies and triumphs back home. At a time of cultural, political, and financial fragility in the Middle East, many young Arabs abroad have started to take more interest in their origins. Simple as it may be, a Kan customized garment provides the customer with the opportunity to take a step in that direction. Kan aims to, on a personal level, shed light on a booming market for contemporary Arabic art and design. 

The Arab identity is a highly politicized one, and politics largely overshadow its underlying beauty. I grew up feeling like I could only express my creativity through English, regarding Arabic as a daunting and inaccessible language. Little did I know what a large part of my personality I was suppressing in the process. Through this project, I hope to inspire in others a newfound pride and appreciation for their cultural origins.


Fouad Abu-Hijleh

Founder, Kan Supply Co.



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