Sustainable and ethical fashion gaining currency in Egypt

Sustainable and ethical fashion gaining currency in Egypt
The Rosette blazer from Saqhoute, above and above right. The Saint Catherine embroidered wide belt from Jozee Boutique, right. (Supplied)
Updated 01 June 2019

Sustainable and ethical fashion gaining currency in Egypt

Sustainable and ethical fashion gaining currency in Egypt
  • Critics of fast fashion say manufacturers should focus on quality products
  • Fast fashion is plagued by ethical concerns, including the treatment of factory workers

CAIRO: Fast fashion is defined as “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.” While it is affordable, fast fashion is plagued by ethical issues, including the treatment of garment-factory workers.
Its effect on the environment — from the disposal of cheap apparel to the pollution of natural resources — is also a growing cause for concern.
Some entrepreneurs in Egypt are confronting these issues by creating more sustainable and ethical fashion solutions.
One such entrepreneur is Norhan El Sakkout, founder of Saqhoute sustainable fashion.
“We need to eradicate the system,” El Sakkout said. “People need to consume less.”
Coming from a fashion-brand owner, this may sound counterintuitive, but El Sakkout is confident of her business philosophy; fashion should focus on producing quality products.
“My products are priced higher than fast fashion, but my designs are versatile and long-lasting,” El Sakkout said.
Shopping is not only about fashion and price. For many, how their clothes are manufactured matters.
Josline El Kholy, co-founder of Jozee Boutique, an ethical fashion brand, believes companies are ultimately responsible for informing their customers about their products.

“The responsibility is on us (fashion brands) to raise awareness on how our clothes are produced. They (customers) have to know the story behind the product.”
El Kholy, who founded the brand with her husband, Ezzeldine Moukhtar, works with men and women across Egypt to produce bespoke embroidery on their clothing.
The key, according to El Kholy, is having a good relationship with employees.
“Our relationship is like a partnership. We don’t rush things. They (employees) work at their own pace, in their own homes, and can be creative with embroidery. It’s more like a collaboration instead of an employer-employee relationship.”
Such collaboration is also valued by El Sakkout, who believes in paying a fair wage to the people who produce her clothes.
Although, the minimum wage is common for workers in Egypt, El Sakkout prefers to pay above-market rates. “I pay people to live a dignified life,” she said.
But higher wages also mean higher costs for consumers. Not everyone is willing to pay more for a local brand, particularly given Egypt’s economic conditions.
“This is something that we struggle with today,” El Kholy said. “But once (consumers) know the story of how our clothes are made, they are more appreciative of the product and its uniqueness.”
Beyond pricing, sourcing fabrics is important for any sustainable and ethical fashion brand.

Natural fabrics such as organic cotton, linen and wool are commonly favored by conscious designers, particularly if they are grown without the use of pesticides, fertilizers and use less water.
But natural and organic fabrics are not always easy to find in Egypt. Despite the global popularity of Egyptian cotton, many local manufacturers rely on imported cotton.
El Sakkout tries to source locally produced natural fabrics, but she is not always successful. “Sometimes I’m able to find 100 percent locally produced cotton and linen in the market. At other times I’m not.”
As a result, she often relies on using blended fabrics, which is also important for supporting local craftsmanship.
“Currently, we have a problem with job creation in Egypt, so using what’s available in the domestic market helps keep our heritage and crafts alive,” she said. “It’s not an all-or-none approach.”
Meanwhile, El Kholy also faces the same problem. “It takes effort to get the type and quality you want, but you have to be persistent and knock on all doors,” she said.
Regardless, sustainable fashion is a growing trend across the world and Egypt is no exception.
Although Egypt was slow to embrace sustainable fashion, the practice is now growing steadily as people become aware of the importance of ethical and conscious consumerism.
Sustainability is no longer a nice-to-have but a must-have aspect of today’s fast-changing business world.
“Any new business entering the market will have to keep sustainability in mind,” El Sakkout said. “That’s where the world is heading. The concept may be relatively new in Egypt, but we can bridge the gap and cross over really fast.”

This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of The Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region.


Huda Kattan backs new female wellness brand

Huda Kattan backs new female wellness brand
Ketish, launched by former Huda Beauty product developer Eman Abbass, is the first brand to be launched by HB Angels. Supplied
Updated 21 min 19 sec ago

Huda Kattan backs new female wellness brand

Huda Kattan backs new female wellness brand

DUBAI: Iraqi-US beauty mogul Huda Kattan has announced Ketish as the first brand to be launched by Huda Beauty Angels — which falls under HB Investments, Kattan’s venture capital firm. Ketish, a feminine care label, is being spearheaded by Eman Abbass, a former Huda Beauty product developer.

“I’m really excited on a deep level about Huda Beauty Angels and being able to reveal to you guys very soon the first project we are investing in with an amazing founder who has such an amazing mission and purpose and we know they’re going to change the world,” she said in a video shared with her 49 million Instagram followers.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by HUDA KATTAN (@hudabeauty)

“When we first started our brand, nobody wanted to invest in us. Nobody wanted to really believe in our cause and what we were doing,” she added, revealing what prompted her to start the $10 million female entrepreneur seeding initiative, HB Angels.

Specializing in female wellness, Ketish aims to launch its first product in August 2021, although Abbass has been tight-lipped on the sort of products that will be offered, telling The Industry Fashion website that the brand will focus on “targeted body care products.”

The new brand was inspired by Abbass’s own health experience. When she was 21-years-old, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer during her first-ever gynecologist appointment. Coming from a conservative background, Abbass felt ashamed to talk to her American-Egyptian family about her health during the diagnosis and treatment process.

Huda and Mona Kattan pictured with Eman Abbass (M). Supplied

Following a nine-year healing journey that she had to go through alone, Abbass was inspired to launch the luxurious female wellness brand that aims to reform feminine care products in the Middle East and is named after a female ancient Egyptian deity.

“A lot of those brands and products that we find now are in the pharmacy and the pharmacy is traditionally a place that you go when you are sick or something is wrong,” she told The Industry Fashion website. “We want to take feminine wellness and care out of the pharmacy and put it in the places that women shop… when I’m having a bad day I go to Sephora or I hop on to Cult Beauty. It’s those spaces that we want to be playing in to really elevate that experience and give women products that they can incorporate into their overall beauty and self-care routines.”

“Ketish is a movement,” Kattan said in a press release. “It’s about taking power back and being fully comfortable with yourself. When people start to become part of this community, they’re going to feel liberated. I realized very quickly that this was a topic that so many people had so many issues with. The more I started talking to Emaan, the more I was convinced that she could change the category.”


Saudi online platforms bridge gap between creatives, inquisitive minds

 These two platforms helped local entrepreneurs to work in the creative sector to achieve their goals. This will ultimately contribute to the Kingdom’s goals for the private sector. (Supplied)
These two platforms helped local entrepreneurs to work in the creative sector to achieve their goals. This will ultimately contribute to the Kingdom’s goals for the private sector. (Supplied)
Updated 27 July 2021

Saudi online platforms bridge gap between creatives, inquisitive minds

 These two platforms helped local entrepreneurs to work in the creative sector to achieve their goals. This will ultimately contribute to the Kingdom’s goals for the private sector. (Supplied)
  • Offering people easy ways to learn new skills, explore methods to promote self, business

JEDDAH: Online platforms are helping smaller creative businesses to pass on their knowledge to interested parties. Two such platforms that have been attracting attention from Saudi locals are Suplift and Upgrade.

These online platforms began popping up on social media a few years ago with experiences and activities offered with a registration fee.
Fadi Yahya, the founder of Suplift, told Arab News that the question that inspired Suplift was “How can I ask people with skills to share them with other people who are interested in learning?”

I started noticing that people here didn’t have easy access to activities and workshops or a platform to access these activities.

Fadi Yahya, Founder of Suplift

“I started noticing that people here didn’t have easy access to activities and workshops or a platform to access these activities,” he said. “It was extremely hard for an average person to try any activity they like.”
This led to Yahya giving over a few years of his life to build a business from scratch that allowed profits to be given back to a talented person rather than an organization. “Our job was to make the structure simple.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Suplift extends across 18 cities in Saudi Arabia, with more than 1,000 experiences on offer. This has helped 10,000 people to make money simply by following their passion.

• Upgrade-sa.com’s targeted audience is people who want to learn new hobbies and explore different worlds, as well as business owners who want to build more connections and move toward expanding their work.

He said there were many challenges as the team was building a new market. “We are not running away or finding the easy way out. One thing we had trouble with was the lack of experience.”
Yahya said that to enable the experiences, the team had to find locations, work out the structure, marketing, customer service, technology, management, as well as ways of working with the government.
The aim of Suplift is to promote the idea of having hobbies. “The thing I am most proud of is that we help so many people make money. Many people say that passion can not help you make money, but I think it is needed in order to help the Saudi economy move further.”
Suplift extends across 18 cities in Saudi Arabia, with more than 1,000 experiences on offer. This has helped 10,000 people to make money simply by following their passion.
“Now that people understand that they can make money doing what they love, we will have more artists, golfers, divers, archers and so many more,” he said. “This makes me proud of my team and myself.”

When we started, we were the ones designing the workshops and we used to seek out the trainers — training and being creative are two different things.

Mohammad Mujahid, COO of Upgrade-sa.com

Mohammad Mujahid, COO of Upgrade-sa.com, told Arab News that their platform’s targeted audience is people who want to learn new hobbies and explore different worlds, as well as business owners who want to build more connections and move toward expanding their work.
The early days of the business were very challenging, Mujahid said. “When we started, we were the ones designing the workshops and we used to seek out the trainers — training and being creative are two different things. So now when the trainers or upgraders, as we call them, come to us, we provide them with guidelines so they can spread their knowledge.”
These two platforms helped local entrepreneurs to work in the creative sector to achieve their goals. This will ultimately contribute to the Kingdom’s goals for the private sector — supporting Saudi economic diversification objectives and building a prosperous future.


French-Algerian singer Lolo Zouai performs new single on Vevo CTRL

French-Algerian singer Lolo Zouai performs new single on Vevo CTRL
The French-Algerian singer dropped the music video for “Galipette” a couple of weeks ago. YouTube
Updated 26 July 2021

French-Algerian singer Lolo Zouai performs new single on Vevo CTRL

French-Algerian singer Lolo Zouai performs new single on Vevo CTRL

DUBAI: This week, French-Algerian singer Lolo Zouai performed her latest single “Galipette” on Vevo CTRL, Vevo’s performance series that highlights both emerging and established musicians making an impact on the industry. 

During the live session, the Brooklyn-based artist began singing her new hit while holding an oversized blue teddy bear before tossing it aside when the beat dropped. 

She joins other artists such as French Montana, Common, Lil Baby and Giggs, who have all stepped up to the mic in Vevo’s online musical series. 

“Really proud of how this came out,” she wrote, sharing a clip of the performance on Twitter. 

The 26-year-old’s live session comes just a couple of weeks after she dropped the electrifying official music video for “Galipette.”

Wild and disruptive, the clip is directed by Amber Grace Johnson and is a visual trip, featuring the artist boxing underwater — Zouai admits she trained for almost two months before to make sure she was in good shape for this scene — crashing a mattress store and a synchronized dance routine performed by the UCLA champion gymnastics team.

With lyrics in both French and English, the track is a reminder of the artist’s rich cultural roots.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Lolo Zouaï (@lolozouai)

Born Laureen Zouai in France to a French mother and an Algerian father, the singer relocated to San Francisco with her family when she was three-months-old.

“Galipette” was recorded in New York and produced by the up-and-coming singer’s long-time collaborator Stelios, who has worked with the likes of Young Thug and MIA among others.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Lolo Zouaï (@lolozouai)

It has been a busy few months for the rising star, who released her debut album “High Highs to Low Lows” in 2019, appeared in global campaigns for Coach shot by Juergen Teller and became a face of Tommy Hilfiger and Adidas France’s new Superstar campaign all in one year.

And it appears that the singer isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

This year seems to be just as promising for the artist, whose highly anticipated second album is on its way and who is also set to open up for British crooner Dua Lipa on her “Future Nostalgia” European tour.


Enduring style of the sandal: From traditional staples to Yeezy Slides, put your best foot forward

Enduring style of the sandal: From traditional staples to Yeezy Slides, put your best foot forward
Instagram/@tamashee
Updated 26 July 2021

Enduring style of the sandal: From traditional staples to Yeezy Slides, put your best foot forward

Enduring style of the sandal: From traditional staples to Yeezy Slides, put your best foot forward

DUBAI: There can’t be a more beloved item of footwear in the Middle East than the sandal, and while increasing numbers of Arab men are rocking collectible sneakers with their thobes in 2021, deep down, the open-toed classic will always remain the footwear of choice. The question is, just how should you wear them?

First things first, did you know that the sandal is actually the OG of all footwear? In 1938 a 10,000-year-old pair was discovered in Fort Rock Cave in Oregon, US. That makes it the oldest shoe going. Sandals in the Middle East are always open-toed and have a leather covering across the front of the foot—meaning that there’s no need for a strap at the heel to keep them in place. While in many parts of the region they would evolve from free open toes to a na’l—featuring another piece of leather to separate the big toe—there was also a need to leave room for a sock, so bedouins could wear them as the desert evenings grew colder.

Sandals in the Middle East are always open-toed and have a leather covering across the front of the foot. Instagram/@tamashee

However, when it came to Western fashion, things were a little more complicated and they quickly become the footwear of choice for uncool, suburban dads. Amazingly, what nearly killed it actually saved its life. Thanks largely to the normcore fashion movement, suddenly the sandal was back in the game. Whether it was David Beckham wearing them with sports socks and a Tom Ford suit or Justin Bieber sporting something with a chunky sole, the sandal was reborn. Not that the Arab world needed such a renaissance, of course, here it had always been on-point.

Now, with luxury brands crafting new editions each year—not to mention elevated streetwear options like the impossible-to-cop Yeezy Slides—it becomes clear: The sandal is no longer a dull, lifeless addition to your wardrobe — right now it’s the star of the show.

“For price and design Birkenstock is great and very reliable,” GQ Middle East’s Fashion Editor explains. File/Getty Images

Here, GQ Middle East’s Fashion Editor, Keanoush Zargham, explains how, when and where you should go open-toed.

“A relaxed, cosy fits work best,” Zargham said when explaining what look you should style your sandals with. “This could range from an oversized tailored suit to a pair of wide slacks with a tank top and cardi thrown on to complete the look.”

While sandals are the norm in professional environments if you’re wearing regional attire, what about pairing them with Western clothes at work?

“That depends on where you work,” Zargham noted. “The other day I wore a pair of Toga Virilis sandals to the office and nobody said a word. Do wear them with socks, though. Nobody wants to see your bare feet in a meeting.

Yeezy slides have become a real powerhouse. Instagram/@yeezymafia

“For price and design Birkenstock is great and very reliable. If you’d like to splash a little more cash, splurge on some Bottega Veneta sandals with intrecciato weaving detail,” he added.

When it comes to slides, the fashion expert says it’s all about how you wear them.

“They’re a little more relaxed, but I love them. Yeezy Slides have become a real powerhouse. Add some socks, a pair of oversized shorts, a relaxed tee and hoodie and you have a great look going on.”


Zuhair Murad celebrates Jennifer Lopez’s birthday with fashion tribute

ennifer Lopez performed at the Citizen VAX LIVE concert in May wearing a jumpsuit by Zuhair Murad. (Getty Images)
ennifer Lopez performed at the Citizen VAX LIVE concert in May wearing a jumpsuit by Zuhair Murad. (Getty Images)
Updated 25 July 2021

Zuhair Murad celebrates Jennifer Lopez’s birthday with fashion tribute

ennifer Lopez performed at the Citizen VAX LIVE concert in May wearing a jumpsuit by Zuhair Murad. (Getty Images)

DUBAI: Lebanese designer to the stars Zuhair Murad celebrated US singer Jennifer Lopez on Saturday, taking to Instagram to toast the queen of pop’s special relationship with the fashion house.

The hitmaker is known for her love of Zuhair Murad gowns and regularly hits red carpets, and the stage, in glittering outfits by the designer.

The fashion house celebrated the singer’s birthday on July 24 by releasing a short video of the numerous occasions she has donned a gown by Murad.

“Celebrating the beautiful Jennifer Lopez today, by reminiscing over some of our favorite #ZuhairMurad looks of hers,” the caption read. “Happy birthday @jlo! Cheers to your everlasting youth and to more #ZMxJLOMoments!”

Murad is one of Lopez’s go-to designers for special red carpet events and performances.

The “Let’s Get Loud” singer previously opened up about her affinity for Murad’s designs, describing the couturier as “probably her favorite designer” in a past interview with Venture Lifestyle.

“I discovered him years ago when I was doing a show, and I was so jet-lagged and I was up in the middle of the night watching Fashion TV, which they had in this country I was in,” explained the hitmaker. “He had this beautiful show and I was like, ‘who is this guy?’”

Lopez went on to explain the hurdles she faced when trying to get in touch with Murad, who doesn’t seem to have been a household name at the time.

“I came back (to the US) and I said, ‘Do you guys know Zuhair Murad?’ and nobody knew who he was, none of the stylists, nobody in the United States knew who he was. I was like, ‘You have to get me this dress for the Met Ball,” she said, referring to the Met Gala, an annual fundraising gala for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York and one of the fashion world’s most eagerly anticipated events. 

“I wore his dress to the Met Ball and after that, I just started using him for everything — he designed my last tour — we just have a great relationship. He’s a beautiful man, a beautiful designer,” Lopez added.