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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Lotfy: Practical Shoes and Accessories in Heliopolis
Historically, Lotfy has been a staple on the Cairo shopping scene. The city-wide branches have always been known as a reliable source of shoes, especially during early September when crowds rush to the shops for the annual round of back-to-school shopping.
The Heliopolis branch of Lotfy is one of the newer ones. Its white brick exterior is actually pretty unique and stylish looking. The two-level shop keeps its women’s shoes and accessories on the ground floor, and its men’s footwear on the first floor. There are also sections for school gear, including children’s shoes and bags on both floors. The space is large, and the range of products on display takes some time to browse through.
Despite the huge range of shoes on offer, the design and styles are only ever slightly different to one another. For those who don’t know, Lotfy isn’t a brand; just a shop. So the brands that they bring in to sell through their branches are generally under the same influences of fads and styles, and are targeting similar markets. Hence, a lot of the shoes look similar.
In the men’s department, this reviewer was impressed with the brand Pronto, which makes both casual and formal shoes. As one of the most expensive ranges in the shop, the Pronto shoes sell for 220LE to 250LE, and are only topped in price by Al Gabas shoes (260LE), which are apparently made of Italian leather. The Pronto shoes feel sturdy and strong, and would last a while, even through strenuous wear.
Another range that caught this reviewer's eye was the Artwork range of loafers. The square-ended soft shoes come in suede and in leather in several colours, and sell for 130LE to 150LE. Artwork also has a range of natural leather casual shoes for between 160LE to 180LE. Unfortunately, some of them have the word ‘Baretta’ embossed on them, which is the name of the leather manufacturer.
As mentioned earlier, the shoes are all very similar, and brands Bebo, Bird Shoes, Golden Triangle and Radar differ only in very small details. The same applies for the men’s belts, which sell for 70LE to 100LE, and are available in both casual and formal styles.
The brands that fill the men’s section also cater to the women’s. For better or for worse, many of the shoes in the women’s section are actually quite classical in design. Most of the shoes are flats and sandals, and at the time of this reviewer’s visit, some discounted items were priced as low as 40LE to 50LE. A range of rather outdated looking bags sell for 80LE to 90LE, while flip-flops suitable for indoor and outdoor use cost 29LE to 39LE.
We suffered from rather lazy service from one particularly blunt staff member, but we’ll give Lotfy the benefit of the doubt; because for anyone who’s looking to pick up a pair of shoes with minimum fuss or headache, this old Egyptian chain is perfect.
Known for providing a Cairo shopping experience for the elite, it makes sense that Ego has opened a second branch in Giza's swanky First Mall. Exclusively stocking internationally renowned, high-end brands, the prices are unsurprisingly extortionate for the average shopper; but that's no surprise with Armani, Jimmy Choo, Yves Saint Laurant, Chloe and many other designer labels in stock. Unfortunately, however, no clothes are stocked at this branch; just accessories.
Immediately, we were greeted with the dreaded, uncomfortable air of scepticism from the shop assistant, who then proceeded to follow us a little too closely around the shop as we browsed the immaculate displays.
The first section is solely dedicated to women’s handbags, wallets and shoes, while several stands boast a collection of accessories. Despite being from reputable brands, some of the pieces seemed a little tasteless and carelessly picked, whereas others were effortlessly classy. We spotted a range of colourful Zagliani snake-skin handbags, quality knee-high boots from Baldan, and a beautiful pair of grey, soft leather boots from Sergio Rossi which were priced at almost 10,000LE. The range of Jimmy Choo offers classic pointed heels, eye-catching diamante high tops (7700LE), or neat pumps for over 4000LE.
The second half of the shop is dedicated to male shoppers, showcasing a wide variety of quality, smart and casual shoes from the same, and other similarly, big brands. We noted a pair of blue suede loafers, attractive ankle boots and sneakers, along with several boxes of cufflinks, belts, wallets and silk ties. There was also a limited section dedicated to children’s footwear, with dinky pairs of shoes priced upwards of 1000LE.
Before we’d managed to find that perfect gift we were looking for, the shop assistant seemingly took offence to whatever it is he thought he read on our mobile phone, and the shop manager herself was called over to continue the systematic stalking. Practically breathing down our necks, we were aggressively quizzed on why we were looking at so many price tags – because, obviously, this is against unwritten shopping codes. Following a brief, incredibly unpleasant confrontation, we were practically escorted from the premises.
Ego brings products from some of the world's biggest designer brands to Cairo, and for that, we’re grateful. With such glamorous goods and high prices, one would also expect impeccable customer service; however, should you appear over-curious, or use your phone too much whilst browsing, you might just be shamelessly hung out to dry by the management.