FashionLife & Style

NAS Trends: Preserving Egyptian culture

Cairo’s fashion scene is full of new, hip fashion designers. NAS Trends is one such hip and young newcomer to the fashion scene, but NAS offers something different: A decidedly dudely take on boutique clothing.

NAS was started by four university students, Anas Tolba, Ahmed Reda, Mohammed Salem and Karim Mourad, who were joined by Ahmed Mostafa, also a student, six months later. And they make the quintessential university clothing: T-shirts.

The idea behind NAS, which means "people" in Arabic, was born when the four friends decided they wanted to start some kind of business that would add value to their community and help them make a little cash. Their idea became a reality last June.

While NAS is a collaborative effort, each of the five has a designated role. Tolba is in charge of design and creativity, Reda is in charge of marketing and PR, Salem is in charge of logistics, Mourad is in charge of finances, and Mostafa is in charge of project management.

NAS’s founders are all Egyptian-born and raised, but they see themselves as a mix between an Egyptian and a more "Western" culture. They try to integrate these influences into designs that are the best of both worlds, while preserving their cultural values.

“We are looking forward to seeing Egyptian youth wearing our shirts," says Reda, the PR manager. "The shirts Egyptian youth wear should say Masri (Egyptian) instead of American, Cairo instead of Paris, Malcolm X instead of Michael Jackson."

Reda also says he believes that Arabic words on T-shirts add value and preserve Egyptian culture.

The first time this reporter saw a NAS Trends T-shirt was in Canada, on 6 October. The shirt featured the numbers 1973 in the colors of the Egyptian flag. It felt at the time like an amazing sight.

In addition to the five founders, the NAS Trends operation includes about ten freelance designers and three sales people. Yet anyone can contribute to NAS’s designs. Every season they collect designs from anyone interested in contributing–who can mail their design concepts to design@nastrends.com–and every season they receive about 300-400 designs, from which they choose about 50. Fans of the clothing line vote for their favorites on NAS’s Facebook group and the most popular 10-15 designs end up in the NAS Trends collection.

There are a few guidelines for the designs. The key criterion is that they must deliver a message and add value to the community.

The five founders also do some designing themselves, selling under the separate line NAS Exclusive.

NAS Trends does not engage in traditional ad campaigns. Instead, they sponsor student activities at universities, creating publicity in the process. They also have a Facebook group that they use to advertise and showcase their latest items.

“Our marketing strategy involves reaching out to our target market […] We target the A and B+ classes, so we set up booths at AUC, GUC and Arab Academy for Science and Technology (AAST) for example,” says Reda.

Because they are all full-time students, NAS is still a part-time job for its founding members. But perhaps someday they will turn it into a career. They have found a niche in the Egyptian T-shirt market that only they know how to fill.

NAS clothing is sold online at www.souq.com. Also Go Casual in Heliopolis carries their products.

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