Saturday 26 of November, 2022
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This Egyptian Designer Is Bringing VHS back into our lives

Studio 81 is adding pizzazz to our wardrobe with '80s and '90s inspired bags.

Staff Writer

Pop culture worldwide has recently been obsessed with '80s and '90s nostalgia; with the latest hit shows and movies being remakes of films from said time periods. The movie industry isn't the only one taking a stroll down memory lane though, with retro having made the same comeback in fashion as well. Egyptian brand, Studio 81 has joined in on the global trend and is designing our handbags with elements straight out of our childhood in Egypt. Remember our obsession with chiclets? Some of your fondest memories were attempting to rewind a music cassette only to end up frustrated as all the magnetic tape got fumbled up. Founder of Studio 81, Rania Hani Afifi - who is an 80s kid herself - is bringing us all our favorite things from the '80s and '90s in the form of clutches and purses. 

"My first collection specifically was very nostalgic for me. I designed bags with the things I grew up with. It was all about childhood memories. We had iconic things like Se7r leban, Kodak, Grendizer. The story behind most of my products is always something that connects me to Egypt or to my childhood,” explains Afifi.

Founded in 2017, the Egyptian brand aims to promote local craftsmanship. Designing everything in Egypt, Studio 81 incorporates handmade elements to some of the products. Also designing slippers, Afifi wants to put a spotlight on the artisanal trade in the country and help grow it, adding that “we’re doing a project with craftsmen in Aswan where we basically have them make the patterns and we’ll put them on the bag. I’ll add the modern twist to it because I want it to retain an element of modernity. So for example, for one of our collection, which is slippers made of straw, they're making the straw that'll go on the bags and slippers.”

Studio 81's latest collection is bags and clutches paying homage to the era of the VHS. We’re getting all the feels just by looking at it. While Afifi has a vision of how she wants to do things, she wasn’t always this confident. When the Egyptian designer first started her line, she didn't tell anyone "because I wanted genuine reactions and not people sugarcoating things. So I spent a month wearing bags from my line without telling anyone that I designed them. And when I found that I got positive genuine reactions, that’s when I told me friends."

Adding a touch of retro while still keeping up with the trending styles, Afifi makes sure to always have something related to the country when designing, be it the local craftsmanship or the nostalgic item itself; pertaining to Egyptian childhood. Naming her brand Studio 81, to avoid limiting herself to just bags and slippers, Afifi prefers to keep her options open in that she may one day want to produce other products. "81 is the year I was born and I wanted something to look retro. The word studio gives me flexibility so I don’t have to stick to bags and clutches forever.”

Check out her work on Instagram.