Having begun his fashion career at just 18 with a stint at Calvin Klein, Egyptian menswear designer Ahmed Hamdy is on a mission to change the way men approach style. With his eponymous label already making waves with the sartorially savvy, he talks tailoring and taking risks...
Ahmed Hamdy embodies the aesthetic values of a bygone era; a time where men were gentlemen, and those gentlemen made a conscious effort when it came to fashion; a time where tailoring was an art and an ill-fitting suit was considered unthinkable. “I have a certain aesthetic and a certain image that I want to portray and everything I wear has to represent that,” Hamdy says as we take a seat at The Gabriel hotel’s Salt; a restaurant which exudes a similar aura of elegance as the designer. Perfecting a sense of old school class, he is impossibly chic and impeccably dressed in a sea of skinny jeans and slogan t-shirts, so it makes sense the designer and stylist has been steadily making a name for himself in the city, creating perfectly crafted menswear, from sharp suits to smart casual attire.
Hamdy’s interest in fashion started from a young age; he always had an eye for style; a knack for the intrinsics of it, and he broke into the field early on. At the age of 18, he started working with Calvin Klein, eventually moving on to take courses in visual merchandising in Italy and working with a flurry of other brands. Parental support came in spades, despite living in a country where the arts are rarely revered and where fashion is often considered a frivolous pursuit. “My parents always supported me because they saw that I was really into this, and that I was good at it. I always channelled a certain aesthetic,” he explains. His signature style is “definitely very vintage, but I try and bring it into the modern world.” It’s almost as though he were trapped in a different decade; if Don Draper casually stepped out of the television screen with one dapper leg and into the 21st century, his reincarnation might look something like Ahmed Hamdy. The comparison is only fitting as Hamdy draws inspiration from all things old school, from the style of the 30s and 40s to the feel and vibe of Downtown Cairo – “I’m so inspired by every element of Downtown, I love it,” he says passionately.
Armed with on-point style, and noticing an empty niche in the nascent fashion scene in Egypt in the form of menswear, Hamdy realised he could translate that into a creative outlet and decided to launch his own eponymous brand, one which mirrors his personal style. The fashion world may be saturated with male designers but the recipients of their sartorial creations are, more often than not, of the fairer sex. Hamdy, however deliberately chose to focus on men as opposed to women, which was both a strategic business decision as much as it was an aesthetic one. “I saw an untapped market,” he says simply. “It’s both a business choice in that it’s a huge market and I can get a big share of it, but it’s also a style decision – I want to elevate the way Egyptian men dress. I don’t expect them to pay as much attention to detail as I do but I do think that the more options there are out there, the more overall style will change eventually.”
Though he easily concedes that the field of men’s fashion has restrictions that its counterpart does not, it is for this reason precisely that he puts as much emphasis on styling as on designing. “You are definitely more limited with menswear than with womenswear; you don’t have the same variety. It’s not like I can make a floral suit!” he laughs. “So it is more difficult but that’s why it comes down to equal parts attention to detail, and a focus on the styling.” The phrase 'the devil is in the details' has perhaps never been more pertinent than it is for Hamdy, who wholly believes that every minute element of an outfit is interrelated and integral to the outfit. “That’s why I’m not only a designer, I’m a stylist. When it comes to creating a piece, I like to incorporate something that you wouldn’t usually see.” And creating a look is more than putting on a suit; “It’s all about the details; how you style it, what you pair with what – it is about creating a point of differentiation.”
And he has certainly done that for himself. A perfectionist almost to a fault, he's stringent with his style. Nothing is overlooked, nothing is an accident - every look is the result of a carefully honed aesthetic, the tiniest details painstakingly curated to create the final effect. Meticulous might be an understatement. “I’m always aware of the way I present myself,” he says. Ever the sophisticate, even his posture while he speaks looks like he’s currently having a discussion about the future of the gentry over high tea with the Duke. When I ask him if he’d ever be caught dead leaving the house is sweatpants he laughs and says, “Yes, of course, but only if it’s a perfectly put together outfit that revolves around the sweatpants and everything works!”
But just because he has such a particular style does not mean that he imposes it on others. He can do the ABCs, the simple suit, the classic cuts, like the best of them. “Men will come wanting basic, classic suits,” he starts – but there’s always wiggle room. He’ll tweak and suggest little amendments. “I’ll be like, let’s add a pocket here, or shorten the pants a tiny bit – let’s just see how it looks. And they usually end up liking it! And then they’ll incorporate it or be more daring with their next suit.”
He’s currently working on his summer collection, which will largely revolve around linen in a bid to battle our unforgiving Egyptian heat. But summer doesn’t mean slacking in style. You can expect a line that is just as perfectly executed as all his pieces. When I ask if he thinks the art of tailoring has been lost over the years, he immediately says ‘’yes” without skipping a beat. But he’s endeavouring to bring it back, one tailored piece at a time. “Fashion is creativity, it’s how to be different. It is about making a statement and about standing out.”
You can check out his Facebook page here or follow him on Instagram @a.hamdydesigns.
Photography by Ahmed Alloush.