Sign in using your account with
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.
With diverse, specialist stores expanding rapidly around the city, shopping in Cairo has taken on a new dimension, where brand names and the latest fads aren’t always the sole deciding factor in spending your hard earned cash. Located in the heart of Zamalek, Mandala offers a variety of colourful and ethnic garments and accessories, bringing different parts of the world closer to Cairo's bustling streets.
Walking in, the strong smell of incense and the soothing background music combined with the decor made of wall hangings and patterned carpets, statues and carved wooden shelves gives off a peaceful and artistic vibe.
While the first floor displays a variety of handmade handbags, scarves, attractive harem pants, colourful pouches and special garments for men and women, the second floor is set out as a relaxing seating area, with comfortable floor mats, florid cushions and low-rise wooden tables, for people to socialise in an at-ease setting.
While the store is conveniently organised, the large display of vibrant garments is a little overwhelming. Displayed on a top shelf, a wide range of fun decorative scarves (66LE) were knotted and placed inside several wicker baskets. A few hand-made fabric bags (160LE) were scattered around the shop; while they were not rich in design, their simplicity and material made them seem rather handy and easy to carry around.
The Indian Harem pants (185LE) and Skirt Wraps (325LE) were the most popular items on display, carrying natural colours such as blue, green and brick-red. Some had uncluttered patterns, while others were more striking in their artwork, embellished with vivid colours and sparkly beaded designs.
A diverse collection of handcrafted accessories are also on offer; a few stiff sandals (225LE), a range of fun every-day pouches (95LE), as well as leather bound note books (230LE) and a small wicker basket with a variety of hand-made earrings and anklets (20LE).
A whole section set next to the cashier counter was dedicated to oils, teas and remedies including a collection of strong-smelling herbal soap (35LE), over priced aroma oil (170LE) and varieties of flavoured green tea (70LE).
Overall, Mandala offers more of a lifestyle experience than just a shopping one. Combining a soothing and cosy atmosphere with unique items, you’ll surely come back here for an escape from the crowded stores and malls, even if just looking for a unique gift.