Edit: Notfound co uploaded the pictures back to their Instagram account
For decades, fashion, globally, has been pushing the envelope and causing a lot of controversies. I personally think that’s great. Controversies make you think and cause a debate.
However, even with that, there’s a limit and if that limit is passed, brands should deal with the consequences.
In Egypt, however, the fashion scene seems to be playing it safe. Even in this case, they were attempting to play it safe, but only their stupidity and internalised discrimination caused the issue.
Here’s the story
A bunch of “edgy” teens started a fashion brand called NotFound Co. Their fashion is…questionable, to say the least, but we’ll keep that for another article.
The issue here is that these “edgy” teens wanted to attempt to make an “edgy” shoot to promote their new line, so someone thought it was a brilliant idea to shoot it in a church.
Yes. A fashion shoot in a church which was used as nothing but merely a backdrop.
They used the Building of St.Samaan Church In the Mokattam mountain as a background for their ugly fashion.
They ripped off the same concept as the Yeezy brand, but instead of having it in a showroom, they picked a church.
They got a bunch of models and made them stand with their dirty shoes on the benches that will be hosting prayers.
Oh, yes! This isn’t even an abandoned church, this church is still very active!
The St.Samaan Church is not just one of the most iconic churches in Cairo, but it’s considered one of the holiest churches in the world!
Some back story about the St.Samaan Church
The church is located at the area of Mansheyet Nasser, or Zabaleen, which was established in 1969.
The area was established after a decree to group together all the city’s garbage collectors (zabaleen) at the foot of the Mokattam mountain.
The garbage collectors were largely Coptic Christians and as their numbers continued to grow over the years the need for a centralized church began to grow.
In 1975, the first Christian church was built in the village but after a large fire broke out nearby, work began on a monastery that was built right into the cliffside.
Using a pre-existing cave and the slope that led into it, the current monastery seats 2,000 people around a central pulpit.
The Monastery of Saint Simon or Saint Samaan was the result of this new project.
Saint Samaan was a Coptic Orthodox saint associated with the story of the moving the Mokattam Mountain in Cairo, Egypt, during the rule of the Muslim Fatimid Caliph al-Muizz Lideenillah (953–975) while Abraham the Syrian was the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.
Here’s the issue
This shoot is a slap on the face for the Christian community in Egypt. Whether we like to talk about it or not, non-muslims in Egypt, or any minority for that matter, do face constant discrimination.
Discrimination is a world-wide issue, not just an issue with Egypt. It’s uncomfortable to talk about, but we need to!
Imagine if that shoot was held in a mosque? Teenagers with their sneakers standing on praying mats and all?
Now imagine you see this happen, and feel like you’re not allowed to speak about it because you’re a minority?
The worst part is that the brand is run by supposed educated girls who seem like they should at least know better. Same with the models participating.
Not a single person behind this shoot thought maybe it’s a bad idea.
Actually, scratch that.
The worst part is that these guys aren’t even aware of their discrimination!
Not a single person was wired properly to think about how this could be offensive.
And funny enough, there are several other places that could give them the same look of the seats. Think the Azhar park theatre for instance!
But no. These kids thought let us do it in a church to look edgy.
How did they deal with the backlash?
As until I was writing this article, they did nothing. They just deleted the pictures from their Instagram and kept deleting the comments attacking them.
But by the time I was about to publish the article, I found that they issued an apology.
Edit: It’s been deleted because people forgot, and the pictures are back up anyway!
View this post on Instagram
On behalf of NOTFOUND, We would like to start by saying we have acknowledged and taken in what said regarding our previous shoot for our last collection. We apologize for what was perceived as insensitivity and ignorance against religious minorities. As an inclusive brand, we want to break barriers and be part of the solution rather than the problem. We value our community and hope we can together learn and heal from this experience. We are deeply sorry for the hurt our actions have caused and will definitely be more aware in collections to come. We are committed to using our brand to include, respect and value everyone regardless of religion, race or gender. We had no intention of upsetting or disrespecting anyone. We were inspired by Kanye West’s Sunday Service Merch. Churches and catholic symbolism are greatly popular in influencing fashion, one of them being the 2018 Met Gala. Various fashion shows have taken place in churches and cathedrals such as Gucci Resort 2017, Moschino Menswear Fall 2016, Simone Rocha Spring 2017, Ryan Lo Spring 2018, etc. To clarify, we received official permission from the church itself and paid to shoot there. Nevertheless, this does not take away from what many of you felt and we hold ourselves accountable for our actions. Inclusiveness is what inspired our brand in the first place, and we hope we will be able to celebrate and value everyone’s presence in our community moving forward.
And just like I figured, they were trying to copy Yeezy. But they didn’t really apologize.
We apologize for what was perceived as insensitivity and ignorance against religious minorities.
And I think I now found the worst part. They’re claiming that they took permits for the shoot. If that’s really true, got help us all!
And kids, this is why you should NOT run a business until you’re experienced enough in dealing with shit like that!