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Mohandiseen, Cairo, Egypt.
Club Aldo: Fast Footwear
The salespeople range from friendly to exhausted to sleepy, but don't be shy to pull as many models as you want to off the shelf. Aldo also carries bags and accessories, notoriously cheap and flimsy, not to mention gaudy with a capital G.
For the largest selection try the Mohandeseen branch, where the shelves are always stocked and styles refreshed fairly frequently. Remember, this is a knock off store where popular designs are mimicked, and sometimes styles are very, very miss: read sequins and jewels on the feet, plaid with sparkles, or some really hideous patent leather buckles. Still, the price is really too good to be true, and when dealing with something as basic – and essential – as the classic ballet flat, there really is no other place to find a decent pair.
With so many shoe shops in Cairo, shopping for footwear can often be a bit of a headache unless you know where to go. Famous for its shoes and leather accessories, Normandy is steadily becoming one of the go to names for both men and women in Cairo. We headed to their mammoth Abbas El Akkad Street branch in Nasr City to see what all the fuss was about.
The shops medium-sized window is illusory; on the inside the shop is similar to a giant exhibition area, showing off two whole floors of leather shoes, sneakers, sports apparel, novelty t-shirts and several bags and belts. Every row of shoes is conveniently labeled according to size which made for a straightforward, uncomplicated shopping experience. Although there was no specific area for women's shoes, many of the plimsoles and trainers could easily have been unisex.
The space is bright and sleek, and the service is pleasantly unobtrusive, but we quickly discovered that almost all of Normadny's stock is made up of fakes. Although we don't condone conterfeit products, Normandy has become increasing popular for their stock of convincing replicas. Boasting logos of famous brands including Zara, Lacoste and Massimo Dutti, we were surprised to see these copies being sold for 300LE - 400LE. Vans and Crocs counterfeits are aplenty whilst CAT and Timberland imitations were priced between 250LE and 300LE.
Although the prices may seem appealing, there’s no guarantee of quality or lifespan; we’d recommend, if you do part with money at Normandy, that you inspect the shoes closely for any faults in the stitching or gluing before, as some are a little suspect. It’s also important to remember that – as they are replicas - the sole of the shoes aren't printed with the brand logo, but instead include the name of the shoe local shoe factories.
Morality aside, we found many of the prices to still be rather high; however, Normandy has grown in popularity amongst among Egyptian youths who feel the store offers new, stylish reproductions at affordable prices.
Cairo 360 does not condone the manufacture or sale of counterfeit goods – unless they look really authentic. Just kidding! Or are we?