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Mohandiseen, Cairo, Egypt.
Accessorize: Always Cute, Often Pricey
Whenever there’s an Accessorize in sight in Cairo, our eyes can’t help but wander over to ogle what colourful, tropical and floral designs they’re offering lately. Always carrying the most adorable bags and jewellery of the season, Accessorize is also unfortunately overpriced, given that their adorable bags are mostly cotton cloth and pleather, and sell for around £65 in the UK, around 420LE here.
The British accessories brand was born out of the Monsoon ‘ethnic’ clothing store in the early 80s, when they began to sell accessories that were so popular; they decided to dedicate a separate store to them in London’s Covent Garden piazza in 1984.
Now Accessorize has over 240 stores in the UK and 600 stores worldwide. The label’s Mohandiseen branch is absolutely tiny, taking up a chip of a corner on Lebanon Street. Nonetheless, the store manages to pack a decent selection of jewellery, bags, and scarves as well as flip flops into the little space.
Arranged by colour, the jewellery is definitely funky, original and too cute at fairly reasonable prices. Delicate leaf pendants were 90LE, chunky oversized colourful bead necklaces were about 140LE, and chandelier earrings were 100LE– which were on the pricier side since we’ve bought silver for less and they looked like they wouldn’t hold up for more than a week. Scarves too were about 90LE, and standard flip flops about 140LE
We also noticed that their stock was less than fresh: despite carrying items from their newest collection, we also spotted frameless sunglasses that are at least three years old, and turquoise stud earrings from last summer’s collection. The pricing is actually quite impressive though, considering that most international brands carry a hefty import charge swallowed by the consumer, when doing the conversion their stock here is actually sometimes cheaper than it is in the UK.
Accessorize’s current collection is inspired by the vibrant colours, prints and embroidery of Mexico, and vibrant, printed, and embroidered they all are, though not looking too different from their usual fare, and in fact quite similar to the beautiful 2009 summer collection– which is certainly not a bad thing.
You’ve seen them at music festivals, beaches and worn by celebrities. Just about every hipster and pseudo-gypsy-styling gal has them by the bunch and Cairo has never exactly been immune to trends and fads; flower crowns and headbands are what’s in right now and one local retailer is taking full advantage of it.
The Trend is a local brand offering those very headbands we’ve seen floating around Tumblr. We came by the brand’s Instagram account, which is where you can view all their designs.
Though there’s still a certain type of stigma surrounding online shopping in Cairo, it has emerged as a great platform and outlet for local brands and designers who have to compete in the face of the increasing number of high-street brands such as H&M, et al. The Trend, in particular, has kept things simple with its Instagram page, making the shopping ‘experience’ much easier than one would imagin.
From amongst a pool of many different designs (ranging between 20LE-80LE), we opted for three; a red flower crown (35 LE) and two normal white and pale-pink floral headbands (20LE each). You can also order some floral bracelets, as well as custom-made floral headbands and crowns for special occasions including engagements, bridal showers, weddings, photo-shoots and the like.
For an additional 25LE, you can get your order delivered right to your doorstep within a pretty short time from placing it. Ours was neatly placed in a plastic bag and to say they looked absolutely beautiful is an understatement. Both headbands were delicate and pretty and work well for both beach and city-appropriate outfits. The flower crown, however, was beyond our expectations; its crimson colour was just perfect and could work for the winter as well.
Unfortunately for Cairo's more experimental fashion horses, we live in a country where fashion statements are mostly accompanied by tons of unneeded glitter and tacky embellishments, the already scarce headbands available in stores come with either or both of these features. The Trend bucks this, well, trend, with subtle designs that sell for very decent prices.