Iraqi hipsters put Erbil on fashion map

Milan, Paris....Erbil.

When you think of Iraq, you don't usually think of high fashion.

But a group of young Iraqi Kurds are sticking their city firmly on the map with a high-fashion gentlemen's club in Northern Iraq.

It all started as a bit of fun among friends. Never in their wildest dreams did they expect to go viral.

"I mean we were even not expecting it to be talked about in our local medias, now we've been talked about worldwide, which is very very motivational for us," says Mr. Erbil Gentlemen's Club co-founder, Omer Nihad.

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Men form high-fashion gentlemen's club in Northern Iraq
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Men form high-fashion gentlemen's club in Northern Iraq
Members of "Mr Erbil", a group consisting of young fashionable Kurdish men, pose in Erbil, Iraq February 4, 2017. According to its members, Mr Erbil is the first ''gentlemen's club'' in the region, and members regularly gather for photoshoots wearing outfits to promote the creations of local craftsmen. Picture taken February 4, 2017. REUTERS/Azad Lashkaril TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Members of "Mr Erbil", a group consisting of young fashionable Kurdish men, pose in Erbil, Iraq February 4, 2017. According to its members, Mr Erbil is the first ''gentlemen's club'' in the region, and members regularly gather for photoshoots wearing outfits to promote the creations of local craftsmen. Picture taken February 4, 2017. REUTERS/Azad Lashkaril
A member of "Mr Erbil", a group consisting of young fashionable Kurdish men, poses in Erbil, Iraq February 4, 2017. According to its members, Mr Erbil is the first ''gentlemen's club'' in the region, and members regularly gather for photoshoots wearing outfits to promote the creations of local craftsmen. Picture taken February 4, 2017. REUTERS/Azad Lashkaril
A member of "Mr Erbil", a group consisting of young fashionable Kurdish men, poses in Erbil, Iraq February 4, 2017. According to its members, Mr Erbil is the first ''gentlemen's club'' in the region, and members regularly gather for photoshoots wearing outfits to promote the creations of local craftsmen. Picture taken February 4, 2017. REUTERS/Azad Lashkaril
Members of "Mr Erbil", a group consisting of young fashionable Kurdish men, pose in Erbil, Iraq February 4, 2017. According to its members, Mr Erbil is the first ''gentlemen's club'' in the region, and members regularly gather for photoshoots wearing outfits to promote the creations of local craftsmen. Picture taken February 4, 2017. REUTERS/Azad Lashkaril
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Now busy with a string of photo shoots and media interviews - they've been dubbed the 'Iraqi hipsters.'

But they much prefer the term gentlemen - they say they want to add a touch of etiquette to the Kurdish city and help their local community.

"When we started we were in a bad situation, economic crisis and then an expected war against ISIS, so everything was settled down, there was no, any, business activities and stuff like that, so we started with the idea to gather and make something and different and unique and then people can get profit and we can change the look of the people and the way that they thinking," says Mr. Erbil Gentlemen's Club co-founder, Goran Pshtiwan.

60 miles away Iraqi forces are battling Islamic State in Mosul but in Erbil's oasis of calm they've turned the streets into a catwalk.

There's not many opportunities for young people here so they're making their own.

The group has about 40 members and with so many requests to join the founders are considering toughening up the admission rules.

And now, with all the new-found attention, club members are dreaming big.

With ambitions to launch their own clothing brand, set up a shop and collaborate with fashion houses.

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