Celebrating Ten Years of Cairo-Based Streetwear Brand UNTY

We sat down with founder Omar Mobarek to reflect on UNTY's first decade

Celebrating Ten Years of Cairo-Based Streetwear Brand UNTY
Menna Shanab

When Omar Mobarek suddenly found himself starting a new life in Cairo in 2010, he had no idea what to expect. Although Egyptian by descent, Mobarek was born and bred in California, and was wholly immersed in the world of surf and skate culture, far away from the urban, concrete jungles of the Egyptian capital. Little did he know that the next 13 years would take him on a rollercoaster ride through Cairo’s underground sounds, thriving street life and countless subcultures. He translated his personal voyage of discovery into a graphic-led streetwear brand that spoke to the power of community, building a homegrown brand with a cult-like following over the span of ten years: UNTY.


UNTY took flight in 2013, when Mobarek was just beginning to become accustomed to Egyptian culture. He had spent the previous three years developing his style, studying Art at the American University in Cairo (AUC) and dabbling in illustration and graphic design. Mindless doodling and a few art classes led to the launch of UNTY’s first collection. “I took a couple of theory classes at AUC and that made a huge difference for me in terms of creating concepts behind the artwork. I just kind of brought those two together – the style that was inspired by the doodle aesthetic that I was running with and looking at Keith Haring and getting into all sorts of different artists. I released the first collection in 2013 and at that point, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with it at all. I just had drawings and I just curated them and printed them on white T-shirts,” said Mobarek as we sat in a café in Maadi, one of Cairo’s urban suburbs.


Since then, UNTY has gone on to release more than 300 items and landed more than 15 local and international collaborations with artists and creatives. Underpinned by a passion for independent music and grassroots underground scenes, the clothing brand embraced a multi-genre approach, blurring the lines between music and fashion to produce something entirely new. The brand offers staples including T-shirts, hoodies and accessories that draw inspiration from the streets of contemporary Cairo, Egyptian iconography and the diverse pockets of culture that populate the city.

UNTY, Egypt Streetwear

UNTY’s style leans toward a sort of grungy aesthetic with a heavily experimental direction when it comes to typography, specifically Arabic typography. Although his work is heavily influenced by Southern California, the essence of an Egyptian design influence is ever-present, offering a clothing range that is approachable by the global streetwear community. A hybridization of cultural and global philosophies, UNTY is a reflection of Mobarek’s own split identity. As he grew in Cairo, UNTY grew in tandem. “I started to notice that it was sort of in parallel to my own journey of figuring out who I was, and where I fit within this city.  The more settled I was in Cairo and the more comfortable I was in Egypt, the more the brand got stronger and more confident of itself in terms of clothing, designs, concepts, stories, the people we collaborate with. These are all really important elements,” he says.

A reflection of Egypt’s rapidly evolving creative ecosystem, UNTY integrates itself within the culture that surrounds it and is growing in tandem with the community. The designs are not chosen merely for surface-level aesthetics, every piece tells a different tale of Cairo, as seen through Mobarek’s lens, “Looking at all my favorite brands across the world, I realize they all repped their city. I felt like that was something I started doing, but in my own way. I already developed a style and sort of process or interaction in terms of how I look at things in the city and my personal experiences and sort of tie them to create a design. I find a balance between the city and my personal experiences.”


Mobarek deliberately took it slow when creating UNTY, allowing the brand to gradually take on a life of its own and develop its identity organically among the different artistic communities he encountered. This was instrumental to the development of the brand’s ethos and identity, to be heavily steeped and submerged in Egypt’s thriving subcultures. “It was really important to become a brand rather than just someone that just makes graphic clothing because anyone can make graphic clothing. It’s really not that difficult. You need to sort of create a personality. Now it kind of has a sense of humor, its own taste in music, right? It’s kind of a person that you want to be friends with – that you want to hang out with,” says Mobarek.

Anchored in community, UNTY has fostered numerous collaborative relationships with all types of brands, artists, creatives and designers, with a particular focus on underground acts, “The brand associates with a lot of different subcultures. So we’ve been in and out with skating, but the main subculture that we work with is music, specifically, producers, artists, or rappers. People that are still, I don’t want to say figuring out the sound, but they’re evolving, and they’re growing,” says Mobarek.

UNTY, Egypt Streetwear

Working with emerging artists created a space that allowed for a lot more creative freedom and fluidity. In its ten-year run, UNTY has collaborated with some of the most talented artists in the region including Shabjdeed, Palestine’s experimental crew BLTNM, Nesr El Scene, Cairo-based party series JellyZone and many more. From cooking up clothing line collabs, designing album artwork and creating merchandise, UNTY was able to successfully fuse the realms of music and fashion together.

From their first ‘Restart Remix Sessions’ in 2018, where they brought on artists and producers to perform their music live to launching UNTY Soundsystem, a collective composed of DJs, graphic designers, art directors and crate diggers heading Cairo’s underground scene, UNTY takes on the role of a talent incubator in a way, showcasing the music and culture that inspires it to the world.

As UNTY looks to the future, Mobarek sees it expanding its footprint in the region and diving even deeper into the musical realm. “Moving forward, yeah, we do want to become more of a regional brand. We introduced sponsoring and throwing parties and pop-ups within the last two years and that’s something we want to develop a lot more and on a regional level, too. We want to do these pop-up parties in Dubai and bring out DJs and producers from Cairo and sort of push that. There’s such a strong scene here and there are so many talented artists out here that only have an audience of like 50 to 100 people that appreciate them. I know that 50 could be 1,000 and that 1,000 could be 2,000, and it just keeps going and going. I want a lot of these kids to be able to do this, maybe not full-time, but at least part-time, at least be able to make a living off of it for a couple of years,” he says.

UNTY, Egypt Streetwear


The regional creative landscape is brimming with artists exploring and re-interpreting their heritage, conscious of the evolving dynamics and social developments around them. The potential power and value of collaboration and community are becoming increasingly appreciated and amplified. With this, UNTY is emerging as a stirring pioneer of how to create, experience, and engage with fashion and music.

UNTY, Egypt Streetwear

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