We speak to Ahmed Hamdi, founder of Egypt's first and only local optical brand, ahead of this Saturday's Fashion Funds event, to find out more about the stylish specs.
It’s hardly a secret Egyptians have long suffered from 3o2det el khawaga, believing that anything coming from within Egypt itself to be inferior to products procured from abroad. Perhaps in the past, the country’s production value may have been responsible for this, but in the last few years we’ve seen the emergence of a myriad of Egyptian brands across the board that are garnering accolades. From couture gowns, to art-infused handbags, the fashion industry in particular, is thriving in Egypt. Despite the fact that the market is now saturated with local creations, we have yet to see home-grown sunglasses sashay onto the scene just yet – until now. Nile Eyewear has been making its way onto many a fashionable face of Cairo’s citizens.
The brand, founded in late 2012, has sunglasses, eyeglasses, and even shatter-proof kid’s glasses. Their collection is laden with creative, out-of-the-box eyewear; think edgy geometric frames, more classic wayfarer styles but with a white-and peach-pink border, round sunnies rimmed in velvet – unique and quirky at every turn. “The idea behind Nile Eyewear is to create fashionable sunglasses,” explains its founder Ahmed Hamdi. “Not just your average pair of glasses. People like the brand because we make designs that aren’t available elsewhere.” But it was also because Egyptian-made glasses weren’t available elsewhere – as in the rest of the world, that Hamdi started the brand to begin with. “I started to notice the things that were lacking in Egypt. Whenever I travelled, like if I was at an airport or something, you’d never see any Egyptian brands,” Hamdi explains. “I later discovered that sunglasses are one of the hardest things in fashion to make and that’s why no one had really done them before in Egypt.” So he took it upon himself to change that. His motivation was part wanting to create something purely Egyptian that would eventually make its mark in the industry, part wanting to prove that you could still make something happen despite Egypt’s circumstances. “I thought, I’ll make a project during this difficult time so that people can see that you can still do things even though the situation may not be ideal.”
“I chose the hardest thing, the most challenging thing that people here hadn’t really done before, because if you want to reach something no one else has reached, you have to take a path others haven’t taken.” He invested everything he had in the endeavour, and even purposely called it Nile to encapsulate the Egyptian origin of the brand. “Everything else aside, the hardest thing was to name the brand Nile, knowing Egypt’s perception of local things – even my friends said I was crazy! They were like, ‘who’s going to wear a brand called Nile?”
Despite it all, the brand flourished, something Hamdi attests to the unique designs they create. And those very designs will be showcased this Saturday at sartorial extravaganza Fashion Funds over at Eat & Barrel’s floating sun-soaked deck. As summer and its perpetual sunshine come closer and closer, we’ve got our eye on landing some new shades to face it with. We’ve all got those classic pairs; we’re ready for some innovative local lenses.
You can check out their Facebook page here or follow them on Instagram @nileeyewear.