Uyghurs, a Turkic ethnic group living in East Turkestan colonized by China, have been facing persecution by the Chinese Communist Party for years now. The conflict started gaining more recognition around 2018–2019. Currently more than 1.5 million Uyghurs occupy concentration camps and many more are living abroad.
Their culture is something Uyghurs hold on to despite being thousands of miles from home. While the Chinese Communist Party is currently working towards relabeling Uyghur designs and cultural wear as their own, we need to understand the distinction and respect the autonomy of Uyghur culture as its own. There are numerous Uyghur artists and business owners here in the United States you can support. Here are a few of them:
Uyghur Collective Shop
They can be found on Instagram @theuyghurcollective. Their products include sweatshirts that have pictures of Uyghur instruments and people, masks that say “Google Uyghur,” stickers of East Turkestan along with a variety of other trinkets. Their clothes are for everybody and a good way to show solidarity is by shopping from them. Their pieces are important to me, as I can incorporate their sweaters into my daily outfits.
On Instagram as @twiiceboutique, this is a fashion brand owned by three Australian Uyghur women. This fashion store has a wide range of clothes including dresses, jumpsuits, belts and skirts. “We continue to do everything with the same passion to bring modest, elegant and on trend styles and push modest fashion to be on the same level as mainstream fashion,” said the three girls. The styles are modest and fancy, so be sure to check out their gorgeous ‘fits.
A must-follow page that consists of handmade embroidered Uyghur art on canvas bags and hoops made by Aynure Alim, an Uyghur fashion design student. Her pieces are absolutely beautiful as she uses vibrant colors that put a story behind her work. From the embroideries of places in East Turkestan to Uyghur people wearing the Doppa, you can visually see the culture of Uyghurs through her work.
On Instagram as @moda_fashion615, are art pieces made by an Uyghur filmmaker based in Washington D.C. Their shop can be found on RedBubble @adill44 where he sells posters, iPhone cases, canvas bags, shirts, and more. With designs depicting cities and states such as Virginia, Los Angeles, California, and Washington written in Uyghur, these are stylish ways to showcase the Uyghur language and bring it to the mainstream.
This couture brand is owned by Alim Adil, an award-winning Uyghur Fashion Designer. He makes pieces that have the traditional Atlas design on them, a traditional handwoven cultural pattern on silk. Adil has many pieces with this design and works to spread more awareness of this special pattern that Uyghurs and more Turkic ethnic groups wear.
The “Doppi Project”
In addition to these Uyghur businesses Nadir Nahdi, an online influencer and the founder of BENI — a culture lab for innovative ideas — filmed the “Doppi Project” in three episodes on his Youtube channel. Featuring Subhi Bora, an Uyghur-Uzbek Australian, the project is centered around the Doppa, a traditional embroidered hat worn by Turkic ethnic groups such as Uyghurs and Uzbeks. The episodes, consisting of Bora traveling to Uzbekistan to connect closer with her roots, are all a must-watch and showcase Uyghur culture in the most beautiful way possible.
The Uyghurs deserve to be seen and their businesses must be supported just as much as any other brand. Despite being miles away, Uyghurs abroad are representing their culture in the best way possible. From the multiple Uyghur restaurants that serve authentic food to the textiles sold online, they bring East Turkestan to us. It’s so easy to support these businesses, rather than giving hundreds of dollars to these brands that are complicit in Uyghur Forced Labor, we can support these hardworking business owners to truly be allies.