Egyptian children fashion mania

Ameera Fouad , Thursday 27 Jun 2019

There was a time when children wore knitted pullovers made by their grandmothers. Today, they are wearing ripped jeans, branded T-shirts, and shoes designed by top fashion lines

As she was getting ready to go out with her parents, she got her brand-new stuff out — shoulder blouse, jeans, and purple sandals — and then stood in front of the mirror for around 10 minutes looking at the effect. 

Trying to brush her hair with her mother’s hairbrush, she put on some lipstick and make-up. Then, she went to grab her mother’s hairdryer. This is when her mother spotted her four-year-old daughter Malak. 

Malak is a member of the recent millennial generation or generation Y. At the age of only four, she goes out to choose her own clothes with her parents, has her say about what to wear and what not to wear, always has her hair loose and curly, and has a wide smile when anyone brings her a favourite lipstick or make up.

She is one of the new generation of girls who cannot wait to grow up. From playing at dressing up to carrying handbags, there is more than a hint of maturity in children’s clothing nowadays.

The relationship between children and fashion has tremendously changed. In the 1980s and 1990s, children used to wear knitted pullovers with jeans in winter. In summer, they would put on a loose T-shirt with Ninja Turtles cartoon figures on it, this being the most fashionable outfit they could come up with.

 No brands were heard of and no fashion lines set a trend. A quick look at old photographs of this generation shows children mostly looking the same. Ponytails were a must for girls.

In 2019, babies, toddlers, children and adolescents have changed the way society looks at them and are showcasing a lot of their personalities and taste. 

Youssef Raafat, 18, a model and rising actor, is daring in his choice of clothes, for example. “I remember when I was 12, I used to match colours people would think would not match or wear something my friends would not wear,” he said. “As long as I felt happy, I would definitely wear it. Later I realised that this was part of my identity and those choices made me who I am today.”

Raafat said that fashion for young men in Egypt has seen a lot of progress in recent years, though it can be too restricted by social norms and perceptions. However, this does not mean that men cannot wear ripped jeans, shorts, or trendy T-shirts in summer.

“This year, for young men it will be loose T-shirts with shorts or trousers, or ripped jeans also,” he added.

Children’s wear has become a highly lucrative business with billions of dollars invested in it worldwide. The Internet, social media, and online advertisements have made both parents and children go crazy for children’s fashion trends.

It seems that wearing brand names has become not so much an option as a necessity for children today. “My 10-year-old daughter always requests brand names. It has become a necessity for her in her clothes,” Mai Eid, the mother of two, told Al-Ahram Weekly.

“Girls bully each other at that age if one appears wearing less,” she added.

Eid who has a son at the same age added that “boys settle for less. My son wears anything related to the football and the teams he loves, like a Mo Salah T-shirt or Messi shoes.”

She said that sometimes fashion lines do not care if clothes are uncomfortable for children, and she always chooses comfortable cotton clothes for her children, even if this means sacrificing style.

“Sometimes, we all wear the same clothes, like the polo shirts we all bought to celebrate Sham Al-Nessim,” she added.

“My mother’s wardrobe is almost like mine.” This is a statement that appeals to many girls who love sneaking into their mother’s wardrobes and trying things on even if they do not fit them.

Marwa Hafez, a businesswoman and mother of 10-year-old Mariam, said that “I love it when we share the same colours and styles. I let her wear my clothes if they fit her, but most of the time we dress differently.”

Hafez chooses what suits her the most. A member of a group of girls passionate about brand names and sportswear, Hafez chooses what fits her best and fits the norms of society.

Donia Hamza, 14, who lives in London with her family, disagrees with the idea of wearing her mother’s clothes, saying that they have different styles and tastes, however. “I could only wear them if they were too small for her,” she said.

Hamza buys her clothes herself from stores in London. “I usually wear jeans or leggings with a tight top to match the jeans or an oversized top over the leggings. I rarely wear skirts or dresses,” she added. Egypt: 

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