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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Massimo Dutti: Affordable But Not Amazing
City Stars is arguably the shopping centre of Cairo. This mini-metropolis is often cited as the place to go to for most, if not all of your shopping needs. However, one area has been lacking: casual and affordable men’s fashion. We’re not saying that there is zero men’s fashion– we’re just saying that most of it is not casual and/or not affordable– something along the lines of Banana Republic, J.Crew or Eddie Bauer would be nice. Massimo Dutti fills a fraction of this gap nicely, although not with the American preppy style of J.Crew.
Buying men’s clothes is always a gamble: too fashion forward and you may not be able to pull it off; too cheap and the quality suffers. The fashion styles at Massimo Dutti range from the regular polo shirts and khaki pants to conservatively patterned suits and suit separates. To reiterate, the Italian fastidiousness and unique slimming style is constant throughout all items. Sadly, not all of us have the figure to pull it off; pot bellies are not welcome. Nonetheless, Massimo Dutti should be a stopping point on your way to reinvent your wardrobe, and it’s almost a certainty that there will be something to catch your eye.
This review would not be complete unless we mentioned that Massimo Dutti also has women’s wear. A couple of visits with fashion-conscious female friends revealed articles that look great on the mannequin, but not so much on real humans. The accessories (scarves, bags) were universally praised; so once again, you’ll be certain to walk out with something
The sales staff are friendly enough– when you can find them. Unfortunately, the tradition of having fashion-ignorant staff continues; and they will probably not be able to help you make a choice if you’re shopping solo. A silk scarf was purchased for 250LE, while a pair of olive drab men’s trousers retailed for 550LE. Both were quality items and well worth the price, while an attractive-looking leather and canvas bag (1000LE) failed to impress at closer inspection; and it was barely worth half the price tag.
All in all, Massimo Dutti isn’t a place that you’d buy an entire wardrobe from; but you would certainly be remiss not to buy one or two special items to add some flair and sophistication to your daily garb.
Shopping in Cairo isn’t always easy. In fact, it can, occasionally, be a nightmare. While many international brands and chain stores are readily available and more arrive by the month, finding quality, reasonably-priced basics can be somewhat of a challenge. Like so many things in Egypt, the difference between the best and the worst is immense.
Cottonball in Zamalek, however, has gone some way to fulfilling that need, stocking an extensive range of simple, plain Egyptian cotton-made t-shirts.
Having recently opened, the shop’s stock is reflected in its decor; simple and unfussy. The light grey and white walls allow the vast amount of colours to standout.
At the heart of the shop’s concept is supporting local industry and each of Cottonball’s lines is named after a different Egyptian governorate; for example, a line of v-neck t-shirts is named Aswan – a very cute touch by the owners.
Though there is a healthy amount of men’s t-shirts, the ratio definitely swings towards women’s, in models, fits and colours – as is the case usually in Cairo. Speaking of which, the colours covered by Cottonball’s products are seemingly infinite – you’ll find everything from loud neon lemon yellow, to demure rose pink.
Though not available for purchase as of yet, Cottonball is currently displaying samples of handmade accessories, too, though no definite date of when the full range will be in store has been locked down as of yet.
When it comes to prices, everything about Cottonball suggests that it will be expensive; the focus on the fact that it’s all made with Egyptian cotton as a gimmick and its location on the ‘high-end’, ‘upmarket’ island of Zamalek being two potential indicators that this place isn’t going to be exactly cheap. However, quite refreshingly, prices are rather reasonable.
Across both the men’s and women’s lines, long-sleeved t-shirts are 135LE, regular short-sleeved t-shirts are 125LE and tank-tops are 99LE. In addition, you can by any three t-shirts for 300LE.
Despite the simplicity of its product – plain t-shirts – the quality of the merchandise makes it sturdy and comfortable. It’s a t-shirt – what could go wrong?