Iraqi hipsters put Erbil on fashion map

Fashion-conscious men are turning heads in Erbil. With regular meet-ups, the young group of hipsters show off their suited and booted looks, capturing their images to share on social media.

ERBIL, IRAQ (REUTERS) - 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." said Mr Omer Nihad, co-founder of Mr Erbil Gentlemen's Club.

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." said Mr Goran Pshtiwan, co-founder of Mr Erbil Gentlemen's Club.

About 100km away, Iraqi forces are battling ISIS in Mosul but in Erbil's oasis of calm these men have 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.