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Downtown Cairo: Thrifting Centuries

Downtown Cairo: Thrifting Centuries

Task: Put together one full outfit from stores located in Downtown Cairo.

Note: In an attempt to trek the unknown closets of our city, I walked out of my comfort zone and into Downtown Cairo's shopping district. The heart of the capital distinguishes itself from the rest of the city by its Parisian inspired architecture, and like it, my aim today was to find something that would make me distinct in the way that I presented myself.

Goal: I wanted to create a look that could not be replicated. 

Recorded footage: One of the shops found in Qasr el Nil street called "Grand Plaza"

Recorded footage: One of the shops found in Qasr el Nil street called "Grand Plaza"

Note: A jungle inspired window display, giving Bergdorfs a run for their money.

I searched through the old and the new, in attempt to discover what the stores in Downtown Cairo have to offer.


All the garments photographed are from shops in Qasr el Nil street in Downtown Cairo. Knock offs were common, and replicas as well, from logo T's to couture handbags.


  • You'll need a lot of patience, good things are not easy to find and even harder to spot among the overwhelming mess of products displayed. 

  • Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find anything right away, and don’t be shocked by the window displays, in all their extravagance, there's something behind them worth seeing.

  • Try to shop on a day when it’s not too hot, because unlike air-conditioned malls, you’ll actually sweat through this one.

  • Almost all shops have the same collections, so compare and contrast prices before committing to a purchase.

  • Uber there and back; parking is a nightmare.

  • Evening gowns and accessories are the best items to shop for, they're affordable and of decent quality.

  • Look through the kiosks between the big shops, they usually have amazing hidden treasures for very low prices.

Outfit Idea

Shopping in Downtown Cairo was overall a challenge, I definitely would not recommend it if you’re looking for a quick fix or don’t have a lot of time. However, I found the experience amusing, walking in the open air, instead of in a closed mall, looking at beautiful buildings, enjoying our urban jungle. In general, good pieces are hard to find, intimidating, cluttered and flashy window displays can also be discouraging, but acquiring that one unique item or bargain piece is definitely worth sifting through the chaos.

As cliché as it sounds, it was more fulfilling and fun “working” hard to put together an outfit than having it perfectly styled for me on a TopShop mannequin ready for purchase - sunglasses and all. This day for me was less of shopping experience, and more of an immersion into the heart of our city and what it has to offer. 

I am not a label snob and have learned that the thrill of shopping can be just as great, if not more so, when you find a bargain
— Sophie Kinsella
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