Rebel-Cairo and UNTY: New concept of contemporary Egyptian style

Sallonaz Sami, Thursday 9 Jun 2022

Ahram Online sheds light on two Egyptian fashion labels that have been bringing the country’s street fashion to the forefront with unique concepts and aesthetics.



Run by mother and daughter Dalia Abbas and Dara Hassanein in 2018, the Rebel Cairo clothing label has been standing out and causing waves

In each collection, Hassanein – the brand's founder and designer – draws inspiration from an eclectic range of sources that coalesce into a concept that dictates the storyline behind each collection.

On the other hand, Abbas adds a practical perspective to the brand, handling the technical details of fabrication that brings Hassanein's ideas to life.

They both pay close attention to illustrative details that tell stories through their garments.

Hassanein stresses in her statements how as a graphic designer, she is specifically interested in illustration.

“My love for scarfs grew as I watched my grandmother wear the prettiest vintage silk scarfs since I was young. My mother, too, who would always go directly to the scarf rack in any shop she entered," Hassanein explained in an interview with Falir magazine.

"I spent most of my time everyday juggling university, training as a synchronised swimmer and a part-time job. I had a few unused illustrations from previous projects that I wanted to print as scarfs for my personal use." She explained.

As the idea developed, and other people saw that her concept had potential, which gave Hassanein the courage to take the step and share her talent on a larger scale.

"There is a general narrative tied to our pieces, most of them tell a story through the voice of Rebel, the main character of the brand. The decision to share our work with people in the form of a story instantly creates a connection between the piece and the wearer," she added.

The piece ends up representing something bigger than just an article of clothing to the wearer because of the story behind it.

According to Hassanein, the choice of the name Rebel reflects the character's essence. "Each one of us has or still is rebelling against something around them or for something they want to see happen," she said.

Actress Sarah Abdel-Rahman drew attention to the brand when she wore their designs two years in a row to El-Gouna Film Festival. The young actress explained her desire to embrace her body and express herself in the outfit she wore on the red carpet, and Hassanein designed the perfect dresses to meet her vision and expectations.

Hassanein is an Egyptian Olympic champion in aquatics synchronised swimming. She received her bachelor degree in applied sciences and arts from the German University in Cairo 2019.

Street wear to the forefront

The Egyptian streetwear brand, UNTY – pronounced unity – was founded in 2013 by Omar Mobarak.

They take their inspiration from the streets of contemporary Cairo, underground music, Egyptian iconography and the spirit of the ever evolving subcultures of Egypt.

"Each piece embodies elements of conceptualisation, material, cut, print, production and branding," explained Mobarak, in an interview with the Daily News.

"I would like to expand into different markets that fit with the brand. The route I am taking is more organic because it really matters to me that people who represent UNTY wear it because they relate to it, and actually means something to them.

“I would rather sell 200 t-shirts to people who love it and understand the brand, than 1,000 people wearing it because someone with a lot of followers wears it," Mobarak added.

On his LinkedIn page, Mobarak explained how as he grew up surrounded by surf and skate culture, especially its artwork, which led him to develop an interest in illustration and graphic design.

"From my experience, people have the hardest time coming up with names for their projects," he said, adding " it took me a minute to come up with it and draw up a logo. I needed a name where I could blend design, illustration, music and video without having to chain myself to one concept. I came up with Unity and I did not even think about it. I drew up the logo and in the process the 'I' felt unnecessary so I ditched it and UNTY happened."

The brand has released several collections featuring graphic t-shirts, sweaters, jackets, hoodies, caps and sweatpants.

However, at the beginning, Mobarak, who worked as a writer, in-house designer and art director, among other jobs, had his doubts that an idea like UNTY would kick off in Cairo.

"The idea remained as a concept in my sketchbook for two years, along with illustrations and designs I had compiled over that time," Mobarak explained.

But little did he know that his brand would be one of the most unique and talked-about brands in the Egyptian fashion scene. For nine years now, UNTY has been making t-shirts and refining its technique, resulting in styles that live up to the brand's name.


Short link: