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Oboor City, Cairo, Egypt.
Shoe Express: A Friend to Your Wallet
We’re sure it’s happened to you before in Cairo. You spot a cute pair of shoes in a store window, ask about the price and then proceed to cry a little. 'Why is everything so expensive?' you might ask yourself in frustration. Well dear readers, fret not; we’d like to introduce you to a small store called Shoe Express.
This store is located in Golf City Mall in Obour City, which, by the way, is a saviour for anyone living as far out of central Cairo as in El Shorouk and other suburbs. Groceries, restaurants, coffee shops and shopping are all a short distance away, which means no more sitting in your car inhaling the sweet scent of truck exhaust on Suez or Ismailia road.
Shoe Express opened last April and offers a selection of both casual and semi-formal shoes for females, males and children with sizes ranging from 35 to 42, 39 to 46 and 17 to 36 respectively. It also has a decently sized section for accessories and bags. Granted, you won’t find anything reminiscent of Balmain’s to-die-for studded crystal sandals here, nor anything super trendy, but what you willfind is a great deal on casual shoes and maybe some respectable looking heels if you have a discerning eye.
On the other hand, consistency in the quality of products is not to be found here. Shoddily-finished shoes sit next to others that are quite the bang for your buck; leading us to believe that a little extra time spent browsing through the racks may yield quite the gem for your money’s worth.
Pretty much everything here is priced between 80LE and 350LE, with quite a variety of designs, materials, styles and colours as well. Expect to pay about 175LE for heels, 100LE for flats and 125LE for flip flops. Men can pay 269LE for a pair of Oxfords. This is the perfect shop for people who don’t want to break the bank for a pair of shoes to use and abuse.
There was once a time when owning a real leather jacket or bag was, in itself, a status symbol of sorts – one that didn’t need a designer label attached to it. But with the emergence of artificial leather goods, that doesn’t necessarily ring as true – the quality and longevity of real leather have fallen down the pecking order of requirements when shopping.
There are a few retailers in Egypt, however, that still hold leather in high regard, none more so than TUYA in Zamalek. While many leather goods retailers often rely on the hook of ‘real leather’ alone, this is one shop that balances quality with good design; at TUYA – a small but cosy shop – designs vary between classic, formal and modern, casual.
Aside from the many leather options across bags and wallets, there are also some that also use canvas material in its designs. One of the first pieces that caught our eye was a bag akin to a rectangular tote bag, but with a more formal look and simple design for 720LE. Its arms are short, but it can still be stylishly worn on one shoulder, while inside the bag itself there are dedicated compartments for a mobile phone, one for glasses and a third pocket with a zip.
Though there are both more formal and casual designs as mentioned, it’s the latter that generally had us ready to spend our money. With both shoulder bags and backpacks available, including ones suitable for laptops; the most striking of which was completely made of a light brown leather (980LE). What’s great about some of these particular bags is that they are essentially unisex and hold a slight hipster aesthetic that one can’t help but like – regardless of your general view of hipsters.
With summer coming up – and with it plenty of weekend’s away at the beach – TUYA also offers small pseudo-travel bags that employ both leather and canvas (640LE).
We mentioned that some of the laptop-friendly backpacks are suitable for both men and women, but there’s also a dedicated collection to men at TUYA; these were the least notable of everything we browsed, however, and they were generally much plainer in design – design that seemed a little dated.
Wallets are also readily offered at TUYA too, meanwhile, with one of the most basic pieces – a wide purse-come-wallet with very few pockets – selling for 200LE. One with several more pockets we spotted, however, goes for 380LE, while the most basic men’s wallet goes for 180LE and is available in different shades of black or brown.
Yes, some of the prices are high – especially with the bags – but it reflects the price of leather in the market right now. But if you’re looking to treat yourself, buy a gift or invest in a bag that you might have for some time to come, TUYA is as good as any place to do exactly that.