Zafir: T-Shirts, Egyptian Style
15B Taha Hussein St.
11am - 11pm, Closed Sundays -
Since opening in
2006, unique t-shirt shop Zafir has been celebrating Egyptian culture by ‘creating
a truly Egyptian t-shirt’. Zafir also markets
itself as a medium of expression for young Egyptians, and a platform for
Egyptian artists and designers to showcase local creative talent. The brand produces t-shirts emboldened with Egyptian
slang, famous quotes or proverbs, calligraphy, truck signage and almost
anything else that reflects local pop culture.
store has a tiny, single floor showroom that offers t-shirts for men, women,
and children displayed on a few shelves and hangers. Men’s and women’s t-shirts cost 130LE, while t-shirts
for kids are 70LE. Designs range from
nostalgic depictions of Oum Kalthoum and ’Misr’ spelled out in Arabic, for some
Egyptian pride. You can also find shirts with messages of peace in Arabic and an
absurd image of kids in school uniforms with guns. Zafir also seems to have a fascination with pictures
of flip flops (shib shib).
The shirts are
advertised as ‘100% Egyptian’ – and are made from 100% Egyptian cotton that
comes in various colours, designed by local designers. The collections
are meant to reflect Egyptian popular culture, and perhaps pose as a form of
social commentary – described as ‘simply t-shirts that speak for us, about us and to us’ according
to their Facebook page.
We admire their
verve, spirit, and entrepreneurial gusto, but 130LE for a t-shirt with a
sometimes wacky (sometimes unsuccessfully so), sometimes boring design seems a
bit high. The store also has a pretty limited range. We’d buy one just to
support their cause but not necessarily for the merchandise’s own merit. Perhaps we’re being too harsh; the store
clerk did say that some of the designs currently in the store are from the 2009
collection. A new summer collection should be arriving in a few weeks’
time. Hopefully it will be more enticing.