As the political scene in Egypt unraveled between the years of 2011 and 2013, the Egyptian community witnessed a huge shift, perhaps the fastest in its modern history, in public values and interests, as well as people’s psychology. And with the public becoming nostalgic about traditional Egyptian values, the millions of young people who took the streets started to take pleasure in experiencing the glories of iconic oriental cuisine, Arabic underground music, and Arabic calligraphy.
A brand is born by capitalizing on the shift of public interests
Local Egyptian entrepreneurs did a great job capitalizing on this shift of public interests; Simple suburban oriental restaurants flourished, new young artists became superstars, Egyptian internet comedians became an international sensation and many local startups had a much-needed head start. By this time, Ahmed Reda and Anas Tolba were graduating from the American University in Cairo and decided to launch their own local apparel business, NAS Trends.
NAS Trends operates in the retail of apparel for men, women, and kids, as well as stationery, such as flags, notebooks, stickers, calendars, and bean bags. “Anas showed me few t-shirt designs he previously made. We already had a product before we decided to have a company”, Reda recalls. NAS concept was born in 2009, but it wasn’t until 2011 when a series of fortunate events made the brand take off.
NAS Trends targeted a market segment that’s made up of young people between 16 and 25 years of age. A growing sense of nationalism provided NAS’s “Proudly made in Egypt” products with free publicity, and as rising artists, such as Hamza Namira and Zap Tharwat, started wearing NAS outfits, the brand gained traction among its target audience.
Putting the customer in charge, a brand culture to stay relevant
NAS- meaning “people” in Arabic- operates a brand that revolves around the customer, customers suggest clothing designs, customers vote on the designs, and then – eventually – customers buy the end product. “We wanted the brand to be led by the customer, that’s why we called it NAS. Our goal is to let the customers lead the brand themselves. We are only facilitators”, Reda explains.
NAS Trends currently lists 27 different product categories, including t-shirts, sweatpants, skirts, bags and accessories, with designs curated from customer submissions. The company’s designers regularly make their own designs and put them up for online vote against other user-generated designs, they never go to print unless they win the public vote. Although the political atmosphere played a key role to the brand’s popularity, NAS tries its best to distance its product designs from political issues.
While new trends and concepts keep evolving all the time, particularly in the clothing and apparel domain, the founders hope the brand can always stay relevant by selling designs submitted by their fans that reflect social change in the community, and the public mood of their target audience. “When you put the customer in charge, you always stay relevant. We would like to keep trending all the time, so as not to lose our edge”, says Reda.
A brand experience customized for every local culture
NAS products are currently available for sale at 4 different branches in Egypt, in Cairo, Alexandria, and Sohag, as well as one branch in Saudi Arabia, in addition to the online store which provides worldwide shipping. However, NAS plans to expand globally in the near future, they are initially focusing on the far east, especially Malaysia and Indonesia. “We have connections there, it’s a very big market, and they are big fans of Arabic culture and calligraphy”, Reda explains.
The company is essentially based on selling customized products, the designs always reflect the identity of the local community. This has also proved to be their biggest challenge when expanding the company. “We do not do a global product, we have some global and regional designs, but the majority of our designs are community-inspired and targeted”, Reda says explaining the essence of the NAS brand.
NAS Trends hopes it can always deliver on its brand’s promise to sell products that represent the customer’s personal identity. “We are not saying we produce the best t-shirt in the market, we are not saying we provide the best retail experience, but we are selling the brand itself by communicating the brand’s love to our customer.