Zafir lets customers express themselves in truly Egyptian ways
CAIRO: T-shirts are a global product that reflect the wearer’s personality. Some people choose T-shirts featuring their favorite bands; others prefer a famous saying; and some would rather keep it simple. But have you ever seen anyone wearing a T-shirt reflecting Egyptian popular culture? Well, now you can.
Now in Cairo, a few pioneering young minds have opened a shop by the name of “Zafir in the center of Zamalek, specializing solely in T-shirts.
What makes these T-shirts special is the concept of a modern Egyptian theme, staying away from stereotypical Pharaonic or Islamic motifs. “The idea is to reflect the real Egyptian modern pop culture . it’s not a political statement, just an expression of us, says Ahmed Kamel, one of the founders.
Kamel, along with fellow founders Noha Zayed and Nada Abdel Salam, are aiming to create a pool of designers who understand the concept and want to be a part of it. “Some people have excellent ideas, it’s more art than it is a business, says Abdel Salam.
Some of the T-shirts are iconic, like one of the most popular ones, “Super Misr, designed like the famous Superman T-shirts, but instead of the S in the center, the shirts feature the logo of Misr Petroleum, a logo that has become vintage and very familiar to any local.
Some T-shirts playfully mock Egyptian culture. These have statements like “Foot Alina Bokra (Pass by us tomorrow) and “Malish (It’s ok) that express the overly laid back attitude of people.
Proverbs like “El-Sabr Gameel (Patience is a virtue) or popular sayings like “Otta Meghamada (blind cat – referring to girls that are pure who have not been exposed to real life) are also popular among buyers.
“We also have masterpieces from the past, that have been imbedded into us as children and have stayed with us, says Abdel Salam, referring to a T-Shirt that says “Ingileezy da ya Morsy (Is this English, Morsy?) from a particularly famous Egyptian play.
One of the many freelance designers is Ganzeer: Experimental Design Unit, who are involved in graphic and interior design, and for the first time ever, clothes. At the moment they have three designs that they have added to the current collection. When they sell out, Ganzeer will be producing new ones. For individuality’s sake, Zafir and Ganzeer have decided to produce a minimum quantity of each design.
According to Mohammed Fahmy of Ganzeer, “by drawing inspiration from local and universal pop cultures and subcultures, societies and human experiences, we have created T-shirts that transcend their materiality and act as a medium for human expression. They also have a small collection, which they plan to expand on, of plain T-shirts, an item that is lacking in the market.
As for quality, Zafir uses natural fibers, cottons and cotton blends. The T-shirts come in sizes for men, women and babies, which are adorable.
Soon Zafir plans to expand their size range and include maternity T-shirts and more designs, but do not plan to venture into other merchandise; they want to concentrate exclusively on T-shirts and keep them at fair prices.
Visit Zafir at 15B Taha Hussein (off Maraashly St.), Zamalek.