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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.
Tasteful bargains are often difficult to find in Cairo shops; low prices tend to be reflected in the quality. Advertising a mammoth sale of their entire stock, we headed to Turkish clothing shop, Defacto, in Heliopolis’ Sun City mall for some welcome reductions. Founded in 2003, the brand has become increasingly popular and has begun to branch out to an international market.
The store is large and split almost in half to categorise the men and women’s sections. Bright red sale signs stand above hundreds of well organised racks, clearly stating the price range of the items below. Members of uniformed staff wander around tidying the rails and offer their assistance once in a while, but largely remained inconspicuous, leaving us to browse at leisure.
We were impressed by their selection of basics; plain t-shirts for men and women came in both round and v-necks, in a plethora of sizes and a rainbow of colours (58LE-78LE). Similarly, polo t-shirts were just as colourful, starting at 79LE for women and 148LE for men. A collection of essential strap tops with feminine lace detailing were 79LE whilst casual, long-sleeved tops for men were 99LE. Chequered shirts were present in both sections (129LE-148LE), as were smart-casual blazers (398LE-499LE).
Jeans, jeggings, leggings and chinos were aplenty; the men’s section was particularly well stocked with jeans, chinos (249LE) and smart-casual trousers (179LE-249LE) in just about every colour you could imagine. We also spotted a pair of jolly striped shorts for 249LE along with some other, beach appropriate types.
The women’s section not only boasted denim jeans (179LE+) but a wide selection of leggings and jeggings (79LE-298LE) and numerous pairs of summery, floral print jeans (209LE). High-waisted skirts were also available in plain denim, stripes and bold colours (179LE), with longer length skirts retailing for 218LE.
Unfortunately the store was rife with poor quality novelty t-shirts (59LE-229LE), often sporting cartoon characters or senseless phrases. The blouses (199LE-249LE) were a little more fashionable, with some leopard print ones and some sporting studs in various colours. We also appreciated the presence of denim affect shirts (179LE) in the men's section, before realising that they too were branded with a ruinous logo on the chest.
Faring better, plain cardigans (199LE+) were available for men and women, women’s tracksuit bottoms were 129LE and men’s t-shirts with coloured pockets were reasonably priced at 118LE. There was a small collection of informal dresses (200LE+), as well as a limited maternity range, and a ‘last piece’ rail.
The accessory section was large for both genders, incorporating all the usual suspects; socks (25LE-59LE), smart as well as fashionable belts (79LE-129LE), light, colourful scarves (68LE-99LE), large, simple wallets and purses (63LE-119LE), big, novelty watches (278LE) and a range of glitzy bangles (69LE) and costume jewellery.
Defacto fare well with a range of reasonably priced basics in a large assortment of colours, however, they seem to have missed the mark when it comes to the more trendy, high-street designs. We'd reccommend this place for necessities as well as simple accessories.