the istanbul designers defining what the future of turkish fashion is
As Istanbul’s SS20 fashion week gets underway, we profile three of the city's emerging and exciting designers.
Photography Emre Unal. Styling Oguz Erel.
There's never been a more exciting time to be a fashion designer in Turkey. While in the past, the traditional route to mainstream success would be to up sticks and move your practice and brand halfway across the world, now a new generation of local designers are staying put and reinvigorating the fashion industry in their home country. Istanbul Fashion Week is a celebration of this cultural shift, and of the fashion and culture inspired by the streets of the city and the sights and sounds of Turkey more widely. Here, we meet three of the most exciting designers showing for SS20 to find out what inspires them, what they think of fashion today, and what it means to be a young Turkish designer in 2019.
Why did you get into fashion? To be prominent, produce and leave a mark. What is the most inspirational thing about Istanbul? Its incredible history... all the people that have lived here and have left their marks are my muse. What inspired your collection? There are oversized coats, track-painted velvet suites, print-designed shirts, wire-breaking embroidered jackets, flyaway trench coats. There is a hint of 70s retro street style. There is a re-perception of traditional attitudes harmoniously mixed with an experimental attitude -- it’s more spectacular and fun! We have experimented with traditional ideas of Italian fashion. High-waist trousers, wide shouldered and loose jackets play on this. It’s a focus on youth and more showy creations with an optimistic view of the future. How do you define beauty? It is very emotional. It touches my heart. All the things that are filled with emotion are beautiful. What do you think about fashion today? The world is changing. It is easy to see ‘feminine’ details on ‘male’ products. We are living in a freer world. Therefore the taboos are being deconstructed.
How did you get into fashion? I was raised by my grandmother who taught me how to sew when I was seven. One of my favourite activities was helping her to stitch the appliqués on collars or cuffs. Since I was a little kid, I have been interested in textiles. Turkey is a country where you can find a great range of textile materials and production opportunities. What inspires you most about Istanbul? Standing between two continents is already magical. The internationally significant waterway, Bosphorus, is surrounded by historical monuments and looks like a magnificent necklace at night time. During daytime -- especially if you’re passing across the bridge -- it’s almost impossible not to be hypnotised by the view where the sea meets the skyline. I am not only inspired by the cultural heritage of the city but also by its geographical shape. What inspires you most as a designer? I’m mostly inspired by where I live and the people... especially women's stories. I'm also inspired by my daughters and how they make me feel. What do you think of fashion today? The world is getting more digital and old rules of fashion don’t work anymore. Brands should adopt smart systems to catch up with the new generation and new consumer habits. I’m trying to update myself about AI technologies in the fashion industry which is actually the beginning of a new era. What can we expect to see from your next collection? As we are getting more and more aware of the importance of sustainability, I tried to insert existing materials into my designs. It was challenging but patching old cotton fabrics from our archives made a nice pattern. We also looked at left over denim from our archive, so we reused that and applied an organic wash to the jeans. How do you define beauty? I think beauty is an abstract concept. You can’t see beauty but you can feel it. Beauty can’t be based on any shape, size or any other physical attributes. What is the power of fashion, for you? Fashion is a way to communicate, to state what you believe or a tool to protest what you’re against.
How did you get into fashion? I grew up in two different houses with two inspirational people. My aunt used to sew clothes for ladies in my birth city Ankara and my grandpa was a menswear tailor in Istanbul. They really influenced me about the feeling of creating something with fabrics. When I started my fashion education I realised that fashion is not just about making clothes, it’s another artistic way of expressing thoughts I confirmed this when I saw Hussein Chalayan’s designs for the first time on Bjork’s Post album cover in 1995. She was wearing a jacket inspired by an airmail envelope. What inspires you most about Istanbul? Its culture and historical background. I think Istanbul is one of the most surprising cities on the planet earth. There is so much information available to you, both from its past and its present multicultural diversity. You can feel as if you are anywhere else in the world while walking on its streets. What inspires you most as a designer? Nature’s perfect harmony. What do you think of the current state of fashion? Fashion has become a fast and very complex structure which is driven by a few huge companies. Trying to catch this bullet train could be exhausting sometimes. It’s always asking for more... produce more, sell more, consume more. That’s why it’s stuck and has started to repeat itself more than ever. To stay strong, the industry and designers need to make some radical changes, when it comes to technology, but also transparency and sustainability. How do you define beauty? I think beauty is life itself. It’s so variable and transient at the same time. Whatever it is, its better to accept it with all its flaws. We should catch it to take its picture before it fades away.