Cairo's street style virtuosos denounce regularity with their ninth collection, out this Friday.
Have you ever felt obligated by society to act in certain ways because of traditions and values that predate your existence? If you're an Egyptian then allow us to answer affirmatively on your behalf; as we depart the seemingly boundary-less world of childhood and step into the real world, society throws a list of expectations that start with how to talk, think, laugh, and don't stop at how to dress. However, the blessing - and curse - of our generation is non-conformity; we have the internet; we started a revolution - those norms and expectations don't apply to us.
Ever since its inception in 2012, local brand UNTY has been ahead of the curve, conforming to nothing but a devotion to individuality and art. After releasing eight collections that have constituted the cornerstone for street style in Egypt, UNTY just released its ninth collection, titled IX, accompanied with a campaign that encapsulates the spirit of the edgy street style brand with a series of shoots, the first of which has just been released.
UNTY IX is a protest against the norm, raising the slogan of freedom and self-expression. "There are numerous cultural expectations of what defines a 'man' and 'women' in Egypt. People throw around labels towards men for not living up to these expectations, and women for dressing a certain way or not living that pampered made-to-get-married life," explains Omar Mobarek, UNTY co-founder. "We wanted to create a collection that highlighted each gender, and what are the most important qualities of the modern man and woman.
"The part of the collection which represents men is symbolised by the quote 'Num Custos Fratris', which means 'my brother's keeper'. It's originally from the Bible which is why we wrote it out in Latin. By that we mean to be good to people, kind, helpful when you can, and protect each other," explains Mobarek.
Calling on women to embrace themselves, and to ignore society's superficial expectations, Mobarek chose to distance UNTY's 9th collection from traditional representations of women, voicing a subtle - yet so visual - revolution against constraints society places on women. "We showed this with a design that features a women with a shaved head," explains Mobarek. "The symbol of the woman's part of the collection is 'vanity and pride are different things,' a quote from Jane Austin's book, Pride and Prejudice. We chose to leave this open for interpretation so we only used the first part of that quote for the sweater."
To tie those two narratives together, Mobarek reached out for a motif that has remained unchanged across cultures, religions, and history. "The third symbol is the rose, that ties the two together. Simply put, it represents love."
Downtown, the beating heart of Cairo, was selected for the first shoot of UNTY IX, ditching the flash and the oh-so-glam for the hustle and realness of the city streets. "We wanted it to be as organic as possible. We picked Downtown because it has a very diverse blend of people, and for its lights and constant motion. We felt like it was the most appropriate location to represent Cairo," Mobarek said, adding that the shoot, shot by Omar Harbi and featuring Mahmoud Gahallah, is the first in a series of shoots prepared for this collection.
Check out the full shoot below: