Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Shopping in Cairo


Shopping in Cairo can be outright depressing. City Star Mall, the epicenter of fashion, is unrealistically expensive for imported and name brand goods.  City Stars is huge and has everything a chic, new mall in the U.S.  or U.K. would have. The alternative Egyptian stores lack any sense of style, coordination, our practicality. A “hip” Egyptian store for women will have a bedazzled long-sleeve shirt with a random American phrase plastered on the front in some gaudy neon shade (think Rave stores circa 2000) over several mis-matched layers of loose-fitting clothes and complimented by an ankle-length denim skirt…. The ones that sell sensible clothing leave the senses dulled with their combinations of polyester and cotton blend draped sadly over the mannequins.  It’s enough to make a fashionista cry.  Cute skirts or dresses of a modest length and reasonable priced are impossible to find! sometimes the niqabs are the most fashionable clothes amongst the selection...My friends and I have come to conclude that women wear sexy lingerie and stripper heels underneath their niqabs and burqa's because stores like the one pictured above are always conveniently next to stores like this one:

What Cairo lacks in stylish clothing, it makes up for in the purse and shoe collection. I’m very serious about the shoes I wear on my feet. They don’t necessarily have to be name brand (although I’ve been pining away for these Jimmy Choos for H&M and I was devastated when the collection didn’t premiere in D.C.) but they must be exceptionally fly.  My friend @DAJEB and I even had a Twitter beef because she dared proclaim that her pump-game (i.e, the quantity and quality of fashionable pumps she owns) was sicker (i.e. more noteworthy in a positive way) than mine.  Not one to be publicly insulted, I launched a full fledged beef with her of the likes not seen since “yo mama” jokes were popular and Elton John vs. Madonna had us on the edge of our seats.  Assertions from me about that the intensity of my pump game is "so sick God said 'let there be light' so he could check my foot work" were followed up by @DAJEB with comebacks such as " then he pointed to mine and said 2 u "u aint got deez"... *shots* fired.

I’ve digressed, as I was saying, Cairo has a pretty good selection of purses and shoes, especially stilettos, booties, boots, and sandals. Unfortunately, most of the pumps here are either round toed or misshaped. It’s difficult but not impossible to find something higher than 2-3 inches. Leather goods are also of high quality.  The stores  are usually crammed with everything the owners could fit into the window which can make the shopping experience overwhelming. To find cute things, it’s necessary for one to window shop diligently, standing in the window admiring each and every shoe covering every square inch of available space in the store window, otherwise you’ll really miss a gem.  In Egyptian stores, shoe’s range from 30LE to 150LE. Thus far, I’ve purchased a few pairs from downtown and the Ramses Nile Hilton “Mall” (It’s more like a debilitated shopping center than an actual mall) across fromt eh hotel by the same name. I’ve also visited Arkadia Mall. Its apparent that it once had a lot of potential but now it’s a hang out spot for local teenagers.  The only redeeming quality was the Toys R’ Us and the oddly placed Diesel store amongst the usual Egyptian goods.

Replica designer bags are also in abundance here.  Unlike most cities where you’d have to find that certain street in town where you can get a $100 “Louis Vuitton “, in Cairo, knock-offs hang proudly next to other purses in most respectable stores. The selection and brands are so widespread and so identical that it’s actually baffling to imagine how Louis Vuitton and Gucci remain afloat. Growing up in Miami has given me an eye for spotting fakes. Without a second look or close inspection, many of these bags can even fool me! A quality replica purse can cost about 150LE. However, the non-replica bags and leather goods are also really nice.  They make up for the sheer lack of style that hinder most clothing in Cairo. 

Here are the pairs of shoes I've purchased in Cairo with a close up of my favorite pair:

Take that, @DAJEB


Dani B. said...

oh so you think you comin back and comin hard? au contraire, mon frèrefor I too have been addin to my collection and while these pair you display are nice (kudos on finding them in a limited market) i have been taking full advantage state side and trust me if you thought it was an epidemic before its now become a pandemic of global proportions!

Frenchie said...

D, puhleeze! I'm going to come back with a shoe-game more anticipated than the Second Coming!

Anonymous said...

Oh but these shoes and bags are all from artificial materials... Real leather is much harder to find and then it IS mostly stilettos and stuff while it is almost impossible to find the only footwear I ever use here - comfortable, real-leather, non-slipping, flat sandals (think Columbia, e.g.).

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