With the local fashion scene thriving with new talents, the made-in-Egypt label has become a trendy must have. From haute couture to athleisure and accessories, a wide spectrum of local options is not only taking the local market by storm, but is also building a regional fan base. However, as the market is rapidly developing in terms of talent, the purchasing behaviour has been dragging at a much slower pace.
Hilda Louca, along with her team of seasoned market experts, decided to take a leap of faith. Together they have created an e-commerce platform to celebrate and support local talent. With 20 years of experience in marketing and management, Louca spends her days scouting for new talents and mentoring others.
Her brainchild, MITCHA is a local platform for curated fashion. The team works day and night to bring together a variety of home-grown designers in one easy-to-use digital platform, which follows international standards. The founders rule by simplicity, elegance, and modernity, all while remaining loyal to their local roots.
The idea was first born in 2016. At the time, Louca chose to apply her extensive knowledge by starting with an extensive market research. Soon after, she was determined to change the fashion game by giving more power to customers and unlimited reach to the designers. Accordingly, she partnered with Glint Consulting, a Cairo-based management consulting and investment boutique firm, and Susan Sabet, the founding editor of Pashion magazine.
Daily News Egypt interviewed Louca to talk about the local fashion, e-commerce, and what the future still holds for the Egyptian creative and fashion scene, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
What encouraged you to start MITCHA?
I am a very proud Egyptian. MITCHA started with a simple dream: a dream of a fashion culture in Egypt, a dream to revive the glory and elegance of the bygone era when Egyptian women were simple, elegant, yet sophisticated. I looked at the incredible talent and creativity of Egyptian designers, their spirit really inspired me to create MITCHA. These designers go against the stream to create, from finding good craftsmen to buying materials and fabrics that may be available today but not tomorrow. They deserve to shine and be seen.
What did you aim to add to the industry?
The fashion industry has witnessed a significant growth over the past seven to eight years. Many local artists and designers have successfully created a niche for themselves. Meanwhile, more people started to develop an appetite for everything that is home-grown.
We believe that designers deserve better exposure and a wider reach. MITCHA comes as a game-changer by introducing a new culture of fashion. We aim to be a hub for home-grown designers as well as a digital destination for fashion by bringing designers to the right customers through a world-class digital platform.
Why should clients buy through your website and not directly from the designer?
MITCHA offers a new and unique online shopping experience. Our platform is easy and intuitive to browse. Customers can browse our curated collections and shop styled looks by their favourite designers. They can also mix and match fully styled outfits from head to foot whether for work, weekend, beach, or special occasions. Furthermore, they can complement their looks with statement accessories, bags, and jewellery.
Quality is our number one driver; every piece is carefully selected and goes through extensive quality and authenticity checks to be featured on the platform. Our dedicated team of fashion-forward buyers, stylists, and editors scour the fashion landscape for real talents so only the best designers are stocked on MITCHA.
We offer a personal service through dedicated customer care, hassle-free shipping in our signature packaging, free returns, and a fully-secured online platform on the web and mobile phones.
We faced many challenges and still do. From the designers’ side, we are working with them on several issues; from improving the quality, to overcoming inconsistency and lack of stock, as well as convincing them to not only depend on their social media followers for growth, but to look further and dream bigger.
We bring a complete business solution, from photo shooting to marketing campaigns and PR, to quality control, and logistics. All that should support designers to showcase their pieces to the world, eliminating all the hassle they go through, so they can focus on creating art. There is a whole industry that is emerging behind the designers, and every touch point needs to be done right.
How would you evaluate the current status of e-commerce in Egypt?
The need for e-commerce and online shopping in Egypt is increasing by the hour, yet there is still a huge space for growth. Some barriers still exist especially when it comes to buying fashion items. For example, while a customer would opt to purchase her bakery, grocery and household items from online marketplaces, the same customer may prefer face-to-face interaction when buying a pair of new boots or a piece of jewellery.
Others may prefer dealing directly on Facebook or Instagram in what we call a very developed ‘social e-commerce’ for fashion. We built a true e-commerce solution that offers an attractive, efficient and secure alternative which preserves and guarantees both customers’ and designers’ rights under one platform.
Customers can track their orders, build wish lists, manage their returns, and give feedback, all in one place at the press of a button and from the comfort of their homes. It is a cultural mindset that we are trying to build and it is growing.
What are the most common stereotypes that you often have to deal with?
Our efforts are geared toward changing the perceptions of customers about the quality of Egyptian-made garments, accessories, shoes, etc. and the price they are willing to pay for it. Customers may buy a comparable item from a global fashion label for the same price or even higher.
We believe that we have a responsibility to educate the market and raise awareness regarding the quality and creativity of our designers. That is why we are uplifting the whole shopping experience to ensure 100% customer satisfaction. We are very determined and passionate to fulfil this dream.