New Zamalek boutique Pepper Closet offers fashion at 50% off and comes with a side of style advice.
In a consumerist market that is fast paced and rapidly evolving to find better ways to leech us of every last penny, quality vs. monetary value has become a severe issue. Indeed, I now find it impossible to shop within a budget. I’d have to sell a kidney just to be able to afford a designer outfit, let alone maintain an entire designer wardrobe. Even though a Michael Kors bag may just be a bag to some people (it’s not), to fashionistas worldwide, a designer item is more than just an item: it is a statement.
Enter Pepper Closet, a tiny boutique located on Mohamed Mazhar Street in Zamalek. Owned and operated by May Ezz Eldin, the store prides itself in being a pioneer when it comes to brand shopping on a budget. All their products come from a range of international brands and priced at (wait for it) 50% below market value. I know what you’re probably thinking: a designer brand for half its price? It’s either flawed or a high copy. Honestly, that’s what I thought too. However, after a quick glance at their products, I was inclined to change my mind.
Ezz Eldin’s marketing strategy revolves around almost neglecting her profit margin, allowing her to reduce the items’ prices to reach the staggeringly enticing 50% reduced value. According to the owner, her main mission isn’t to make a profit, but rather to fight the deeply instilled preconception Egyptians have of designer brands: that they have to be painfully expensive or that, if they’re cheap, they must be fake or flawed. A modern day fashion saint, if I may say so myself.
The store features several local designers as well, such as Sally Karim and Dalia Hafez. Karim specialises in “pre-loved designer bags”, and has the benefit of bringing along a loyal customer base and trustworthy clientele. Dalia Hafez, an up-and-coming Egyptian designer (who Eldin swears by) shows her talents in custom-made bathing suits that are quickly produced and of admirable quality.
Pepper Closet also has a very interesting aspect to it: occasionally, Ezz Eldin will post a look made from items found in her store that can serve for a certain occasion, and that you can get for less than 500 EGP; if anything, that’s what I’d like to call a bargain. In fact, she so graciously put together a collection of white looks (in anticipation of this afternoon’s White Party at Tamarai) especially for CairoScene.
Honestly, what Pepper Closet has to offer titillates my fashion senses. It’s an interesting take on brand shopping in Egypt and one that offers a plethora of choices for the thriving fashionista. However, the main thing I’d like to stress on is that brands don’t make or break your outfit; you can throw on a Marc Jacobs shift dress and still look as visually interesting as a wall. Individuality and a personal sense of style are key to any outfit (however, it wouldn’t hurt if that personal style fell under the category of those new season Gucci loafers).