For Ahmed Azzam designing is not just a job, its what satisfies his passion for fashion. From his first collection, he conquered the fashion world by storm and in no time ZAAM designs became one of the most awaited for collections in Egypt, Oman and the U.S.
First, what can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Ahmed Azzam; Im 24 years old. I graduated from the Faculty of Commerce English section, Cairo University. I have been working in the online and digital field for four years now aside designing.
You studied commerce, how did you make the leap into handbag design?
Fashion is my passion and since my early college years I have been satisfying my passion by doing small fashion projects. During my first and second years, I used to design women accessories and it went well but didnt last long due to studying. In my third year, I designed men apparel and in my senior year, I used to provide the student models with their uniforms. After graduation, I was so excited to start my corporate career that I stopped all my activities. Two years later I felt unsatisfied with my life and decided to get back to my passion. In 2012, I started scanning the market and started preparing for my first bag line.
What drew you to handbag design?
When I decided to get back to the fashion industry I scanned the market to check the gap we have, and I decided to start with bags as I didnt find a lot of bag designers here in Egypt. ZAAM is planned to be a full leather goods brand, and we are continuing on this track, that’s why we introduce new items each year. Luckily, we succeeded in the past two years to have our imprint in the market.
What inspires you as a designer?
Everything around inspires me; I try to have a theme for each collection I introduce, and make each collection different from the other. But mainly I love the vintage and classic style.
In your opinion what one bag every woman should own?
This one depends on the personality of each woman, as it should fit her style. But I really appreciate a courageous girl who is able to wear the unique shaped and colored bags that make her standalone in the crowd.
What challenges did you face as a designer in Egypt?
As the industry is still booming Im facing a lot of issues in finding the high quality materials and production. Labor is one of the biggest obstacles Im facing due to lack of commitment, finishing standards and quality. It takes double the effort and time to get a piece done.
What one piece that you created is the closest to your heart, and why?
All my bags are so close to my heart and I have a story behind each of them from the designing phase till production. Its hard to pick one to be the closest as I have a favourite in each line. However my last collection for Cairo Fashion Festival 2nd Edition, could be my favorite one due to the unique shapes and materials used.
How can you evaluate the industry in Egypt today?
The fashion industry in Egypt is booming, we are having a lot of good and quality fashion events, fashion magazines and blogs. Also you will find all the corporates directing a good portion of their marketing budget to fashion, regardless their core business. If you checked the sponsors of any fashion event you will find corporates from the telecom industry to Aviation, Banks and FMCG, which is a good sign and thats giving us high and good exposure.
Are you pleased with what youve reached?
Im so happy with my achievements in the past two years; Im working according to the plan. Now you can find ZAAM bags in Egypt, Oman and U.S., next destination is Dubai. I hope for my brand to be there before the end of 2014. Also each year I try to add new items to ZAAM lines. After our first anniversary the Men Collection was introduced and the new line to be introduced this year is the wallets and leather accessories.
How do you prepare for a new collection?
This is the critical and the most time consuming part, as I need to find a theme or a story for the line that is new and different from my previous collections and it takes me a while to find it. Thats why Im always paying attention to my surroundings as I might catch the idea of the new line. After this phase I start the designing phase aligned with market scanning to check the available materials and if it will correlate with the designs and theme or not.
What are your upcoming projects?
I am preparing for my fall 2014 collection. Its a big line and important to me as it features the collaboration between ZAAM and two big entities.