While one sister spent her entire day drafting design stories based on previous relationship, the other spent hers sketching her sibling. The dynamic duo, sisters Aya and Mounaz Abdel Raouf, are Egypt’s top accessory designers who have made a name for themselves by establishing their brand, Okhtein, that has become a respected international label in less than two years.
From handbags and leather jackets to makeup kits, the duo has redefined the standards and boundaries of home-grown brands. The Abdel Raouf sisters made yet another move this season with the launch of their very first scarf collection.
The collection People You’d Like To Meet consists of 10 designs showing the pair’s talent for sketching, storytelling, and artistry. Each scarf is the encapsulation of a story that has inspired the designers.
The designs include: Miss, I Got Your Back, a self-portrait of the duo; When She is Pissed, a sketch of Mounaz, courtesy of Aya; and Busted, the story of a man who is unfaithful to several women at once.
Superb quality has been a defining characteristic of each of the sisters’ former projects; the scarves are no different and come in four different imported fabrics: silk, wool, thick wool, and wool with fur trim.
The collection was launched in collaboration with leading nail-polish brand, Essie, a few days ago in Katameya’s Pop-Up Shop. While Okhtein provided artistic flair, Essie brought cool and vibrant colours to the table in with their multicoloured launch invitations and the giveaways they distributed at a booth in Katameya.
The online launch was even more spectacular thanks to Louay Nasser’s eye for drama and magic. The photographer’s series of photos and short videos showcased the scarves’ beauty.
Daily News Egypt met one half of the creative duo, Aya Abdel Raouf, to find out more about the collection, the brand, and Okhtein’s future plans.
Why did you decide to design scarves now?
Okhtein was never just a luxury handbag line. We knew it was going to expand and become an accessory line. We wanted to explore other options and thought that the best start would be with scarves. We both love scarves and we have been collecting so many prints and fabrics over the years, especially Mounaz, so it just made sense to us.
Are you planning to have a permanent scarves line?
Yes, the scarves were not released in limited edition; if anything, the launch of Okhtein Scarves will be just like that of Okhtein Essentials last year. We decided that once a year, we will draw ten stories of ten people who inspire us and we will market them. However, we will change materials according to the season.
What did you aim to communicate through this collection?
We aimed to portray real-life stories that left a mark on us. We chose stories and people who our customers will find they can relate to. We wanted to add a sentimental touch to the client’s experience when buying an Okhtein scarf.
How did working on a scarf collection differ from your regular project, handbags?
It was definitely a challenge at first. It took us months of research to gather all our resources; it was a similar research process to when we began our handbag collection. Mounaz and I love to challenge ourselves, it helps us grow and be more inspired. When we step out of our comfort zone, the real magic starts to happen.
What made you decide to team up with Essie for the launch event?
Essie wanted to collaborate with a local brand that has a similar design aesthetic; they approached us when we launched our AW16 collection because of our usage of primary colours. We told them about our latest release, which uses many colourful prints, and felt it reflected Essie’s brand well as they have many nail polish colours that corresponded to our designs.
What will be the next step for Okhtein after your recent expansion into Spain and your scarves collection?
We aim to expand further into Europe and the United States. We feel that Okhtein can grow and gain more recognition abroad. As for designing, Mounaz and I have no limits, we want to develop a full range of accessories for this brand.
How would you define your style; what makes Okhtein stand out in the current local competition?
Our style is elegant, yet quirky, classic, yet fun. What sets us apart is our originality and personalities. We are true to ourselves and that shows in our design aesthetic.