His lapel pin is a testimony to his childhood in the region and his authentic take on modern fashion. Silver calligraphy captures the eyes of those walking by. The classic piece of accessory pays a subtle tribute to this decade’s digital slang yet remains faithful to the beautiful cursives of Arabic letters. “LOL” it says boldly as it represents the designer’s witty interpretation of a forgotten piece of accessory.
Hisham N. Wali is an accessory designer that has decided after years between the GCC area and Europe to bring back a young and contemporary flair to the almost-forgotten lapel pins, handkerchiefs, and cufflinks.
Through depending on the charisma of few well-known motifs and key words as well as the originality of local craftsmanship applied on genuine silver, Wali has reached the perfect formula to talk young generations into upping their fashion game.
With a statement debut collection, Wali has managed to encourage the capital’s most renowned gentlemen to wear their humour on their chests. From Arabic translation of digital terminologies to charismatic rabbits and iconic blue eyes, Huwa is a brand that introduces handmade luxury to local menswear.
In a matter of few weeks after the brand’s official launch, many local celebrities were spotted out and about accompanied with their favourite Huwa pins. Meanwhile, the collection’s name, El Sandstorm, has not only attracted many Arab men that appreciate their heritage, but also opt to keep pace with the global fashion industry.
Daily News Egypt sat with the man behind the spreading the trend to talk inspiration, craftsmanship and taking over the region; one pin at a time.
Can you please introduce yourself?
I’m Egyptian, born and raised abroad. While I have a BA in Mass Communications and Marketing and a masters in International Marketing Management from London, UK, I have been working in my family business in IT and Engineering Services for the past 8 years.
About a year and a half ago, I took the decision to move back to Cairo to start bringing my life-long dream to reality.
How did your background reflect on your designs?
“El Sandstorm” collection is inspired by the Middle East and the GCC area because it represents my life as an Egyptian born in Kuwait, and brought up between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
Without a question, my aesthetic is highly influenced by the region. On the other hand, my years in London have exposed me to European fashion.
Accordingly, I wanted to mix my Middle-Eastern upbringing with the modern European look, which is often noticed in their way of accessorizing a man’s outfit in a subtle yet distinguishable method.
What inspired you to start a brand specialized in menswear accessories solely?
My father is a very well dressed gentleman and I guess because of him I grew up paying a lot of attention to what I wear and how I style it. When I took my first job eight years ago, I had to wear suits on a daily basis. Therefore, at one point I needed to find ways to step up my suit game so I would not get bored.
Simultaneously, my love for footwear tremendously grew and I started experimenting with lapel pins and handkerchiefs. That was the unexpected start of a passionate and long relationship with Lapel pins; a bond that has unpredictably led me to HUWA.
Casual wear is more common in Egypt, what makes you think that the
public would opt for sophisticated accessories?
The beauty of Egypt lies in its diversity as a community in itself; within the huge population of what I think is now around 100 million, you can find people of contradicting aesthetics, standards, and lifestyles.
This country harbours a very unique market that has a place for everything and everyone! Accordingly, Egypt certainly has a sufficient number of potential customers that appreciate high-end accessories.
This line of business, which I like to call ‘fine accessories’, is a mix of fine jewelry and fashion accessories that I personally enjoy wearing as I am quite passionate about it.
I know it’s a niche and its specific, but I know that there are men out there that will understand it and appreciate it.
What is the main story behind El Sandstorm?
This collection is a nostalgic tribute to all the factors, which collectively constructed my years around the Middle East and GCC countries. When I started working on this collection, I sat down and thought of the first things that often remind me of being an Arab. It was not long until these designs started to surface. As for the collection’s name, El Sandstorm; it was a natural choice for my source of inspiration.
What does the fact of being handmade in Egypt add to your designs and label?
I think we have impeccable talent and craftsmanship in the region; nonetheless, people still tend to seek manufacturers and suppliers either in Europe or Asia. Therefore, I wanted to shed some light on the massive potential of this craftsmanship and prove how it can lead to great results.
Like many other regional designers before me, I hope I can become one of the Arab designers that bring out the region’s strong production capabilities and prove their quality according to international standards.
Do you plan to expand your brand into women’s accessories?
The idea has certainly been brought up, however, I honestly do not believe that this is something that I will be working on any time soon.
Where do you plan to take your brand next?
So far, my plan is focused Egypt in particular and the region in general. Nonetheless, who knows what opportunities might rise along the way.