Walking in vast strides toward the same route that she takes every morning, the subtle wind riffles through the silk tassels on her mules. With every step, they dance up and down in anticipation to a new long day of work, art, friends, and fun.
Her life is packed with activities, hobbies, and plans; therefore, she has mastered the art of inducing her interests in the details of her everyday routine, while always remaining faithful to practical comfort. For many years, the charismatic ruins of old Italy greeted her every day, as she was busy discovering the country’s hidden gems of leather manufacturers and masterful workshops.
Reem Alaa Hamed is a woman that prefers to dive—head first—into adventures. After days and months of bonding with genuine leather and learning all of its secrets by heart, the entrepreneur was not only ready for a new venture; but she was also encouraged to take a one-way flight to her hometown.
Ramla is Hamed’s answer to the tricky mix of art, fashion and comfort. The footwear brand is inspired by Egypt’s heritage and Italy’s intricate leather techniques. In less than a year, the brand has already attracted social-media attention after launching a troop of colourful tassels. The collection showcased a strong sense of humour with swaying silk threads and deep appreciation of art with clever colour combinations.
In a time when the ugly sneakers are dominating the runway shows of prominent high-end brands, Ramla (which could be translated to Sand) still seeks beauty and refined details. Many of its most popular designs feature intricate handmade beading and embroidery, which reflects the pharaoh’s love for statement golden motifs. Meanwhile, the selected fabrics insure durability and effortless elegance.
Launched in June 2017—it was not long until Ramla became a synonym to fashion-forward practicality. Through a wide range of designs, Ramla crowned flat mules as the optimum choice for both summer and winter. While off-white embroidered linen is a smart purchase for the warm season, artisanal black pairs peppered with gold embellishment is the right statement for the rest of the year.
As a lifestyle brand, Ramla also offers additional flat options aside from the mules. Nonetheless, they all have precise artistry and practicality at their core. Hamed often works with a modern woman in mind; therefore, her brand advocates day to night utility. Meanwhile, her designs are relentlessly designed and tested, in order to provide the utmost comfort.
According to the designer, craftsmanship is what sets her brand from the competition. Each of her pairs is handmade in the heart of Cairo by specialized artisans—making each and every pair special and different. Furthermore, her eye for heritage-inspired fashion has already given the brand a boost during special features in foreign markets and events.
The Daily News Egypt sat with the 26-year-old local footwear designer to talk inspiration, materials, craftsmanship, and obstacles.
What encouraged you to start Ramla?
After living and working in Italy for some years, my passion for shoes started to grow more and more – especially the ‘Made in Italy’ products. I was inspired by everything that was handmade, including the knowhow of shoe making and the leather world.
Soon enough, I started working at a small handmade workshop for men’s footwear—designing and customizing everything by hand.
On my return to Egypt, I recognized that our country is full of leather sources; furthermore, there is a great potential for the leather industry in Egypt. Accordingly, I decided to take this step and promote a handmade leather product, which represents our culture and history. Just like that, Ramla, was launched, in June 2017.
How would you describe your band’s aesthetic?
The brand represents a lifestyle image for elegant; yet, practical women. A happy vibrant positive woman, who is active and likes to walk around the city accompanied by comfortable shoes; exploring new things.
I want women to wear something that is fun, beautiful and comfortable. I chose to specialize in flats given that it is an item, which she will not only wear to work; but also, opt for on special occasions and at night, while going out with her friends. Ramla is a footwear brand that reflects unique women, those who prefer easy and practical methods.
Why does the number of local brands by footwear designers remain very limited?
The main material that I work with is local pure authentic leather. It is very difficult to find the right resources and the right people to work with—that is why footwear brands in Egypt are still quite limited; however, our country is rich with diverse high-quality leather resources.
With that said, the manufacturing process consumes tremendous effort and time from both sides-designers, as well as craftsmen.
It is all handmade that is why the process is not easy and it is very limiting. The main obstacle that I have discovered, while building my brand, is the necessity to satisfy the needs of all clients and make sure to have the best service for each and every one.
Are your designs completely manufactured in Egypt?
It is important for me to focus on the Egyptian market, providing its clientele with one of a kind footwear product, which would make them feel comfortable and confident while wearing Ramla.
I am proud to say that Ramla is completely handmade in Egypt. Inspired by the heritage and history of Egypt, the production takes place in Cairo—by artistic local shoemakers. You can shop the collection in Egypt—at Mounya Gallery in Zamalek and online through Instagram.