The Talking Point: How Golshid Mola Is Promoting Independent Iranian Designers

Alangoo, Golshid Mola, Online Shopping, The Talking Point, Traditional Crafts, Persian Culture
Todd Macintire
Floral lace earrings, Dhs275, Ghazaleh Shalchi. Bronze Hamshahri ring, Dhs360, Farish Alborzkouh. Persian miniature clutch, Dhs495, Jordy. All at Alangoo.com
Online destination Alangoo is revealing a Persian underground of a different kind. It’s founder Golshid Mola explains how

On launching Alangoo.com:

“Today we have a Tehran Fashion Week where shows are permitted and modelling agencies have also emerged,” says the Iranian entrepreneur who founded Alangoo.com in 2011. Through her N.Y.-based online platform, she is on a mission to promote independent designers from Iran and its diaspora by showcasing and selling their pieces to a global audience. “I launched Alangoo to fill a void for avant-garde Persian designers who look beyond the traditional crafts one typically sees. It’s unique in that it serves as a market place for designers, where they can manage their own stores within the website; adding products, pricing, descriptions and shipping items.”

On growing up in Iran:

When describing her childhood in Iran, Golshid debunks assumptions of a country functioning in virtual isolation for over 35 years. “People are often surprised to hear that my style icon as a 13-year-old was Madonna or that I grew up watching American sitcoms on TV via satellite. Granted it was at the time of the Iran-Iraq war, but I was like any other teenager in the world,” recalls Golshid, who would receive packages of clothing and fashion magazines from her aunt in L.A. while growing up. “Today Tehran is filled with big brand boutiques and edgy stores, but back then it was much harder to find trendy clothes, so we would ask relatives outside Iran to send us items for special occasions such as parties or weddings,” adds the entrepreneur who wanted to promote Persian culture to a global audience from an early age.  

On her early exposure to Tehran’s design scene:

Back in 2000, while a graphic design student in the Art Department of Tehran’s Azad University, Golshid befriended a number of artists and designers who began organising trunk shows to sell their handmade jewellery, home accessories and limited edition t-shirts. “Looking back 18 years and 12 events later, that experience planted the seed for Alangoo in my mind. The events we organised became very popular because they also created a sense of community by serving as spaces where people could hang out. The same way Alangoo has become a virtual community of Persian creatives today,” says the fashion entrepreneur, who left Iran after completing her undergraduate degree to pursue a Masters in Graphic Communications Management and Technology at New York University.

Persian calligraphy brass earring trimmed with pheasant feathers, Dhs275, Nuvano at Alangoo.com

On building bridges between her two favourite cities:

“I love New York as much as I love Tehran, and it’s incredibly inspiring to be surrounded by Iranian musicians, photographers and filmmakers who are contributing to global culture in a positive way,” says Golshid, noting that in the last 4-5 years Brooklyn has also become home to a large community of Iranian creatives. Despite living in New York, Golshid remains connected to Tehran’s evolving fashion scene while visiting her family in Iran. “I was really impressed by the level of creativity and professionalism, but at the same time it saddened me to think that the rest of the world had no idea this was going on in Iran. That was the moment everything came together and I began to see Alangoo as a global platform for these designers.”

On her mission to change perceptions about Iran:

“Persian culture is incredibly rich and diverse, but we need to create more opportunities for a global audience to experience Iran and its people in a way that’s approachable and doesn’t play on the same old clichés. If people took the time to get to know each other, they’d realize we have more in common than they think, yet we continue to build walls around us instead of opportunities for dialogue,” says Golshid, who in the years since launching her site, has managed to build a following amongst non-Iranians in search of a unique gift or design. “When we initially launched the website, most of our customers were made up of the Iranian diaspora living aboard. But today we have customers placing orders from as far afield as Paris, London, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, New Zealand and Australia,” says the fashion entrepreneur, noting that one of the key motivators behind the site is to promote Persian culture through its products.I think fashion can play a role in changing perceptions and that is part of Alangoo’s mission. To give a voice to independent Iranian designers and normalise the image of what it means to be Persian in the media.”

Origami cashmere dress, Dhs730, Solouk. Metallic hand-embroidered clutch, Dhs460, Lost City. Persian calligraphy ring, Dhs330, Nazila. Eslimi silver geometric earrings, Dhs514; ring, Dhs440, and bracelet Dhs1,465, all Arash Raad. Available at Alangoo.com

On where to experience Tehran’s vibrant design and cultural scene:

“To really experience the capital’s creative renaissance you need to look beyond the tonier sections of Tehran’s northern suburbs, and head to the southern part of the city. In Iranshahr, the area surrounding Tehran University, you will find galleries, bookstores and cafés popping up in 300-year-old buildings. It’s Tehran’s version of Brooklyn and many of these spaces, such as Café Nazdik, double as venues for informal art exhibitions, concerts, film screenings and poetry readings,” notes the Iranian entrepreneur, who will open Alangoo’s first showroom in L.A. this year as part of her mission to transcend borders. “The most gratifying aspect of this job has been the opportunity to connect two cultures that I love deeply and to bring others along on this journey through a shared appreciation for art and design.”

1. Persian paisley jacket, Dhs915, Matin. 2. Calligraphy ring, Dhs330, Nazila Javdaneh. 3. Persian Poem Lock necklace, Dhs2,754, Zangaar. 4. Paisley ring, Dhs165, Always. 5. Bronze Zoorkhaneh earrings, Dhs477, Farish. All available at Alangoo


Alangoo.com 

Read Alex Aubry’s full interview in the February issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia, available on iPad and in-store now.

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Alangoo, Golshid Mola, Online Shopping, The Talking Point, Traditional Crafts, Persian Culture
Alangoo, Golshid Mola, Online Shopping, The Talking Point, Traditional Crafts, Persian Culture
Todd Macintire
Floral lace earrings, Dhs275, Ghazaleh Shalchi. Bronze Hamshahri ring, Dhs360, Farish Alborzkouh. Persian miniature clutch, Dhs495, Jordy. All at Alangoo.com