Monday April 22nd, 2024
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London-Based Minimal Homeware Brand House Babylon Launches in Egypt

Founder Mariam Elshafie debunks bed sheet myths as she uncovers the truth behind ‘100% Egyptian Cotton’ labels.

Karim Abdullatif

London-Based Minimal Homeware Brand House Babylon Launches in Egypt

How often do you find the label ‘100% Egyptian Cotton’ plastered on homeware? A lot, surely. But do you ever question the statement, which has become a universal staple of quality in the world of luxury furnishings? Egyptian lawyer Mariam Elshafie has, and she found that “chances are it’s not real,” as she tells SceneHome.

Digging deeper into the truth behind the misuse of Egyptian cotton, Elshafie ended up founding London-based brand House Babylon, which has now launched in Egypt and (you guessed it) specialises in authentic Egyptian cotton and certified textiles, placing plenty of emphasis on transparency and sustainability.

Having already worked with fashion titan Dior and luxury hospitality group Aman, House Babylon’s minimalist products range from towels and scented candles to bathrobes and bed sheets.

Growing up in Canada, while making frequent trips to Alexandria, Elshafie moved to the UK to study law and practised for two years at one of the ‘big four’ firms. “I bought my first house during that time,” she recalls. “It was my first experience looking for homeware.” Elshafie found the UK’s market difficult; it was tough to find readily available pieces with good quality and a short delivery time.

When Elshafie got to the soft furnishings, the duvets and other plush delights, the first spark that led to House Babylon ignited. “I remember visiting outlets in Amerya,” she says of her time in Alexandria. “Growing up, our home furnishings were always so nice.” Keeping those visits in mind, Elshafie began taking note of the state of Egyptian cotton. “Labels would say ‘Egyptian cotton’ but when I tested the quality it was poor,” she says, as she began to realise her goals for House Babylon.

“When I looked into the textile industry I found that it’s highly unregulated,” Elshafie explains, referring to common malpractice during farming processes. From there, Elshafie dedicated herself to creating high quality, affordable homeware. “That’s why I wanted House Babylon to be transparent about its products and processes.”

Each and every one of House Babylon’s products is certified, proving its authenticity and source of its raw material. From the sourcing to dying and manufacturing to the packaging, Elshafie made sure to instil sustainability at the centre of all her operations. “We need to use less, which translates to good quality products. The rate at which we’re consuming isn’t sustainable so the least we can do is buy less but buy better,” she says. “In the past people bought products that lasted them a long time.”

Ironically, the ‘greenliness’ of House Babylon isn’t merely in practice but also in palette. “When we thought about our colour ranges we did a lot of testing,” Elshafie recalls. “I always read that people unconsciously like colours that are soothing at home. Green is my favourite colour and it happens to also be our best seller.”

Whether it’s green, blue or beige, House Babylon products exude a relaxed feel. Because beds always reign supreme, Elshafie started off with bedsheets before adding scented candles and a bath collection that includes mats, towels and bathrobes.

Making her brand personal went beyond Elshafie’s colour or drying preferences. Even her brand’s name carries a fair amount of nuance. “I wanted it to have its roots in Egypt. We’re honouring Egyptian cotton and when I was looking into the rise of cotton production I learned that Cairo was previously named Babylon. Therefore, it was nice to come back to Cairo without seeming too obvious.”

Within Egypt, all of House Babylon products are produced locally. As for the UK, the bedsheets are made in Egypt while other products are made in Turkey. “I’ve always wanted to launch House Babylon in Egypt,” Elshafie explains. “After getting the hang of it in the UK, I knew that the Middle East was the place to be. The plan is to produce as much as possible in Egypt.”

In 2024, House Babylon will be introducing pyjamas that work in and out of the house, along with other homeware beyond bed and bath. Above all, with its entry into the Egyptian market, House Babylon is keen on providing modern homes with ethically sourced products that are designed in ways that will - quite literally - help us sleep better at night.