Egypt, Fashion and Merchandising
Religion, culture, national pride and tradition all play a part in merchandising approaches and fashion businesses in Egypt. The tradition of the family, gender issues, the roles of men and women in society, the extent to which religious beliefs are promoted in the cultureâ€”all of this impacts merchandising and fashion. This paper will look at how religion influences merchandising approaches and fashion businesses in Egypt and discuss the effect that religion has on retail and whether or not religious customs appear to be changing.
Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country with a somewhat strong level of Coptic Christian communities. For that reason, the government adopts a secular attitude towards religion, but the religious culture and climate has a strong tradition for dictating dress and merchandising approaches. Other than in Cairo, where events like Cairo Fashion Week (2018) are annually held to promote fashion designs that are international in terms of standards and style, most of the towns in Egypt adhere to the traditional styles of dress and business that are informed by the modesty principles of both Christian and Muslim religions, whose adherents tend to dress relatively similarly (Every Culture, 2018). As the Travelphile (2013) points out, headscarves are a personal choice for all women in Egypt, and both Christians and Muslims will wear them because of social and cultural norms that extend from religious beliefs.
As much of the nation is desert, most of the countryâ€™s inhabitants live along the fertile Nile River Valley which stretches north to south. As in other Muslim countries in the Middle East, modesty among men and women with regard to dress is a social expectation. Women are expected to wear clothing that covers their bodies and men are expected to keep their chests covered. Therefore in virtually every merchandising and business area throughout Egypt, the same conservative styles of dress will be seen and this is reflected in the way that businesses approach advertising and merchandising and the types of fashion lines they sell (Kim, 2016).
Citizens shop in stalls, boutiques, larger stores and malls. Clothing items can be purchased on the streets in stalls or in larger markets (both indoor and outdoor) from vendors who cut the fabric and make the clothing to size on the spot after taking the customerâ€™s measurements). There is not the same focus on branding as there is a brand-intensive country like the U.S. or the U.K. In Egypt, merchandising is more focused on getting quality fabrics. Thus, the retail landscape in Egypt ranges from street stalls for poorer customers to large, air-conditioned boutiques and stylishly decorated and designed malls for wealthier customers. Some Western style fashions may be found in wealthier more cosmopolitan areas of Cairo, but for the most part â€œmany Egyptians shop at the famous cheap market of â€œWekalet el Balahâ€ and â€œAtabaâ€, where there exist many stores that buy previously worn clothes and resell them cheaply, with prices ranging from EGP50-200â€ (Euromonitor International, 2018). Brands like Adidas and Arafa can be found there and Western brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Salvatore Ferragamo along with MANGO can be found in high-end parts of Cairo, which shows that some international retailers are viewing Egypt as a place to extend their brands (Yasser, 2015)â€”but none of this serves as an indication of the direction in which merchandising and fashion designs are changing for the majority of conservative culturally-minded consumers in Egypt.
National holidays based on religious customs will impact whether merchandisers and retailers are open: holy days play a big part in the expectations of the community so it is deemed important by business owners to respect them. In the United States, Egyptians tend to assimilate in with the Western style of dress and cultural expectations, not anticipating that many retailers will close for holy days marked by the religious calendar.
Important fashion companies in Egypt include Al Arafa with its Concrete label. Other fashion companies include: LALA, Elia, Opio and Plum Plu. These fashion companies offers shoes and apparel and bags and jewelry for the fashionable set in Cairo (Cairoscene Team, 2017). These companies are still relatively conservative to reflect the fact that there have not really been any significant changes to the countryâ€™s population over the years. Nor have there really been any changes in the merchandisingâ€”though some internationally-minded retailers in Cairo have had to shut their stores during revolutionary phases in the countryâ€™s history to avoid getting sacked. Once the revolutionary phases are concluded, the retailers have been able to open their shops again and sell the international styles that the high-end consumers in Cairo appreciate (Young, 2014).
Current economic issues impact merchandising in Egypt in the sense that much of it is determined by the level of international investment, at least with respect to high-end regions in Cairo. Across the rest of Egypt, where wealth is not a defining feature, fashion is less of brand-related or economic-related issue, as dress and style are modestly priced and provided for the consumers along the Nile River, where religious influence plays the predominant input for merchandising and fashion design.
Cairo Fashion Week. (2018). Retrieved from
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Euromonitor International. (2018). Apparel and footwear specialist retailers in Egypt.
Retrieved from http://www.euromonitor.com/apparel-and-footwear-specialist-retailers-in-egypt/report
Every Culture. (2018). Egypt. Retrieved from
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Women, Religion, and Politics in Egypt
Yasser, N. (2015). Famous international brands to capitalize their investments in Egypt.
Retrieved from https://dailynewsegypt.com/2015/06/01/famous-international-brands-to-capitalise-their-investments-in-egypt/
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