We speak to Egyptian fashion mogul Mostafa Makhlouf, founder of Fashion International House, about supplying Egypt's men with sartorial sustenance ahead of the local launches of brands such as Byblos and Versace Jeans...
In a society that places a great amount of time and effort into looking good, the Egyptian men's fashion sector is seriously lacking. Surprising, given that the fashion industry is a booming business from which no country is immune, including Egypt. However whilst women are spoiled for choice, men struggle for options. But where is the urban man who is attentive of his personal grooming and fashion to go?
We take a seat with the expert himself, Mostafa Makhlouf, the owner of the company Fashion International House (agent of the brand Cougar and the soon-to-open Versace Jeans and Byblos), as he tells us that this shortage is not just a problem Egypt faces, but a global one. Quite a bleak outlook for men's fashion in the region; however in his chic and welcoming Mohandessin Cougar
store, saturated with style, it becomes apparent that the effortlessly stylish Makhlouf holds the answer to Egypt's problem, and perhaps even to the future of men's fashion in Egypt.
“Cougar began as a result of the shortage within the men's fashion sector,” he tells us. “In 1999 we began to sign agreements to be the agent of several brands and thus we introduced a variation of lines. Our target now is to keep adding to the market.” Since the birth of Cougar, the company has worked with over 40 high-end brands from Italy and now the store offers Cairo's men top designer-wear such as Giovane Gentile, Tween, Damat, Alessando Massimo and Campione. Step by step, the company has filled the gap in the market and contributed to the men's fashion sector. But Fashion International House goes further by identifying that the niche really lies in the shortage of sport chic and semi-classic.
With a wide variety of styles from the trendy Tween to the classic and unique style of Damat to the preppy chicness of Campione, the company not only supplies fashion, but it provides clothes of which the compilation of materials, tone of the colours and fit are incomparable. Perhaps the embodiment of this quality is Mostafa Makhlouf's personal line, Alessandro Massimo, itself a leader in wedding suits, and behind the visionary lies a great inspiration story. “Gianfranco Ferre is my teacher. However, I travel to Italy a lot to catch the energy there, for I believe that when it comes to fashion, there is no place like Italy,” he says, and this is apparent in his designs. Made out of special materials ordered from Como in Italy and detailed accessories, such as buttons and cuff links adorned with Swarovski crystals, Makhlouf's company hits the supply of fashion and the demand of quality.
However, Fashion International House is a company that does so much more than supply men's fashion, which becomes evident through Makhlouf's vision and goal. The company is not just about giving men their fashions rights, it is about educating them in style. “In Egypt, fashion is not the first step but the second or the third. Our polic is to start with the customer from zero as we want to teach them how to choose their wardrobe. Our staff aren't salesmen, they are stylists trained to help the customer learn how to choose items.”
With the provision of fashion schooling, it's no surprise that the main client base is wide. From the ages of 18 to over 50, the company caters for all. However what is essential for Mostafa Makhlouf is that “the customer has the initial desire to change their look.” The man himself is targeting the new generation; city men with a desire to look good and who follow fashion on the internet and on social media. Starting from a younger age provides a blank canvas on which he believes makes “it easier to change their look and their mind. To really make an effect you must start at the roots.”
As the fashion industry is a perpetual growth business, many brands run their course after their lifetime has expired. However, Fashion International House is not in jeopardy of this. A strong brand, almost 20 years old, Makhlouf's vision for the company and the Egyptian fashion industry is undeniable. “Next year we plan on increasing our investment over 70%. Our plan is to increase investment because it is a good time put yourself in the forefront, here in Egypt.” In addition to this, the new brand Total Look, providing men with a wide variety from nightwear to beachwear will also be opening soon.
Indeed, Makhlouf seems set to revolutionise the men's fashion industry in Egypt. “To believe me you have to believe my strategy. You have to trust me enough to give me permission to change your look,” he says. The man has fashion running through his veins and with this kind of vision it is hard to imagine a future for the industry in Egypt without him in it.
Find out more about Cougar and their latest collection on their Facebook page here.