UNTY IX: Street Wear, Cairo and This Ambiguous Thing We Call Hype
Watching someone draw something by hand can be one of the most perplexing and fascinating of artistic experiences.
Not the act of drawing in itself, but the act of diving into someone’s brain for a moment and watching their thoughts unravel perfectly in the form of flat two-dimensional lines being etched out onto a piece of paper.
Everyone can draw; no doubt about that, but not everyone can envision an image and make it come to life exactly as they saw it in their mind; then take that image however ambiguous, insane or brilliant it may be, and create something out of it, for people to share the experience, and quite literally “wear your art”.
Writing this article was inevitable for me, but I’ve been somewhat shying away from it simply because when you witness someone’s creative process on a day to day it becomes difficult to describe and do it justice. This is a brand I know by heart, and so an authentic look at their identity is what this article will provide.
Fashion is a grueling business, and in the case of building a street wear label based in Cairo, of all cities, almost impossible. UNTY founded by Omar Mobarek, is doing just that.
Looking at UNTY as a brand, here is the general formula I’ve observed. It starts with a sketch, on a piece of tissue paper, on the corner of a place mat, in the middle of a book. Wherever. From that moment onward every next step is synonymous with uncanny attention to detail, research and then more research, choosing a design, developing the concept behind each piece, selecting a quote or sentiment that speaks volumes in the subtlest way, then working and reworking every element of a single design until it is “perfect”.
The hunt for fabrics and cuts is next, the warmest, thickest and most durable fabric for winter. Simultaneously, sampling different types of silkscreen printing and embroidery.
The late nights followed by early mornings at the production factory discussing shape, fit and form. Effort is what propels a brand forward and ambition takes it to the next level. The IX collection by UNTY is a collation of all of the above, a step away from being simply a clothing brand and a step closer to being a fully fledged design house.
The shoot you are looking at throughout this article – shot by the endlessly talented photographer Omar Harbi and modeled by creative Mahmoud Gahallah – is an authentic street wear editorial photographed in the streets, shops and alleys of vibrant Downtown Cairo. This exemplifies UNTY not only as a street wear brand with a solid identity, but a diverse and capable creative lab of people who know how to get sh*t done.
Vision, aesthetic and consistency are everything. Above all your brand needs vision, followed by a team of people who can implement that vision through a baller aesthetic and then the ability to consistently up your game each and every collection.
Originality is their most obvious strength; with Founder and head designer Omar Mobarek and his partner Omar Fayez - based in Germany - working not only to ensure they maintain the exclusivity of each capsule collection but more so to successfully branch out into the coveted infamous street style scene in Germany. Due to their team work this venture is well on its way, Fayez being the business mind and tactical guru.
Any Hypebeast knows that street wear operates on three main pillars; minimalism, concept and collaboration. The IX collection features four black sweaters that embody the concept of empowerment with filtered down designs, sleek materials, and fine embroidery.
Following this year’s trend cycles, embroidery has been a huge part of the High Fashion as well as the Couture scene. Brands from Urban Outfitters, Stussy and Champion to Dolce and Gabbana, Valentino and Chanel all used embroidery as a tool to add depth to their garments.
For the man - above - on the back of one sweater a quote form the bible “Num Custos Fratis” meaning “My Brother’s Keeper” hangs over his head. Symbolizing the importance of brotherhood, kindness, protecting those we love. Inspired by the statue of David, who defeated Goliath to save his people.
The woman - below - has a shaved head, in a statement of power and a challenge to stereotypical norms. Featuring a partial quote from one of our favorite novels Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin “Vanity and pride are different things.”
I think it is important to think about personal style and how it reflects on who we are as individuals. Every once in a while purchase something that has a story, something hand made, something vintage or old, something that is one of a kind, something that took time to make.
UNTY is a brand, which if nothing else, respects the creative process from start to finish. This is what makes it resonate with people, the fact that you can see a raw element in its pieces that are sometimes lost in the fast forward world of mass production.