Healing through fashion:
Ginan Tabbouch is reclaiming her story

by Gemma Dawkins
Monday 11 September 2023

Ginan Tabbouch has always had to hustle. The founder of unisex streetwear brand GTAB tells M-POWER “I do not comprehend impossible or take ‘no’ as an answer. I believe there is always a way.” But as passionate as she may be about designing what she calls a ‘new age of fashion,’ launching her fashion career hasn’t been her biggest challenge. Not even close.

The child of immigrant parents, Tabbouch grew up in the melting pot of Western Sydney, describing her childhood as “turbulent.” At school, she faced severe bullying. As a five year old, she witnessed domestic violence, then drug abuse, and later racial profiling. At 17, she experienced homelessness. “These conditions were the norm growing up as a child in the hood,” she explains. “We struggled financially and were in constant survival mode. I was a child who grew up too fast and had adult responsibilities, and it really shaped the way I thought and saw things. These experiences forced me to think outside the box. This is where my creativity stems from.”

So, founding a fashion label? It’s not easy, but Tabbouch tells us, “when you find ways to feed yourself out of poverty, creating a successful career almost seems like playtime.”

I believe there is always a way

- Ginan Tabbouch

That said, GTAB isn’t something she takes at all lightly. In fact, it’s something she feels called to do. And it’s something she feels she has to do herself. “I believe I was created to design a sustainable, ethical and powerful business to lead the way for other entrepreneurs,” she tells us, “and to change the fashion game.”

The change is already underway. In 2018, Tabbouch put Bankstown on the map when GTAB showed at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. It’s a moment she describes as “euphoric,” saying, “For the first time, I felt like I had a voice. A BIPOC woman whose adversity didn’t win and in fact, was gifted a platform to showcase her gifts and talent with the world. I felt validated that me and my community were given space to breathe that day.”

It's the community that fuels Tabbouch - from the inspiration she takes from her parents, whose resilience fuels her own, to her desire to give back. “I’m An Arab Brazilian with strong ancestral roots that feed me inspiration on the daily,” she says. “I was once a struggling member in the community, and I would’ve loved to have someone believe in my talents and mentor me to greatness. There are so many hidden talents and incredible craftsmanship among our community. It would be a crime not to invest back into the people who made my community and who inspire me every day to not give up.”

There is a sense of healing in Tabbouch’s work. She describes GTAB as a brand that “gives stories a platform to roar.” In doing so, she finds a sense of ease – perhaps even a brief respite. “When I tell you my story, a part of me, usually my inner child is seen and heard, and that ripple effect creates healing from within. Healing occurs through listening to someone else’s troubles and acknowledging their pain. That’s how I believe art through storytelling heals.”

Tabbouch is forging her own path in fashion. “It doesn’t make sense to work for someone else. These gifts cannot be limited or tamed, and need the space to thrive without micromanagement or restrictions.” But even so, fashion is a notoriously difficult industry to crack. That’s where M-POWERed Collective organisation Global Sisters comes in. Providing a range of programs and pathways to support women from the earliest stage of business ideation to beyond, their support has been crucial to Tabbouch’s entrepreneurial journey. “It is so reassuring that an incredible team of women are only a text away,” she says, “to help you with any of your business challenges. They are ready to mentor you, challenge you and open doors that you were not able to open on your own. I believe alone I can go far but together we can go further.”

And the road ahead is clear. “Everyone loves fashion and aspires to be stylish, Tabbouch says. “I want to present a new age of fashion, a fashion that tells stories that need to be heard.”

That total security in herself and her mission is what sets Tabbouch apart. She knows exactly who she is, and where she’s going. And she’s well aware that that self-knowledge is her strongest asset. “I’m proud to be who I am in a world where many people are afraid to empower themselves and be just that. The most powerful person is the person who knows themselves and is real about that.”