Shopping in Turkey is an enjoyable experience for all tastes and budgets. From the narrow lanes of the Grand Bazaar and a myriad of little shops heaving in abundance to the sleek luxury boutique of Istiniye Park and Nisantasi Istanbul is the primary shopping destination. It is said that Istanbul has the biggest number of shopping centres than any major European city.
The fourth city on the list of the top ten with the largest number of billionaires -currently at 34- after Moscow, New York and London Istanbul is also officially a new luxury destination. There is hardly a luxury brand that has not set up shop in Istanbul. And the luxury sector is booming. In December 2009 Prada opened its first stand alone store in Nisantasi. It was preceeded by a Miu Miu shop in Istiniye Park, the latest addition to the list of Istanbul’s exclusive shopping malls, where all major luxury brands are conspicuously present.
Among home grown retailers Vakko is the oldest high end retailer in Turkey. What started as a milliner in 1934 has become a referential multi brand luxury store in Turkey with legendary service. Beymen is another upmarket store that carries a wide range of luxury brands. It has beautiful stores, excellent service and a loyal clientele from the wealthy classes. Beymen is the Turkish answer to Nieman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. Whereas Beymen remains a marbled luxury temple, Blender, its latest retail project, is the most exciting concept store in Istanbul, the Turkish equivalent of Colette.
Concept modern stores are still a novelty in Istanbul. Recently there has been a resurgence of interesting boutiques and small stores particularly in the Galata area. Local designers open own stores with concepts and an effort at visual merchandising. Simay Bulbul, Bahar Korcan have recently opened stores in Galata. Building Food Lab & Apparel is another example of an interesting concept store that fuses architectural projects, food and fashion. Midnight Express is a modern multi brand boutique that carries lines by Turkish designers. Kumpanya 62 stands out as a hip beautifully designed store with a story that is carried through every detail of interior. The stock is artfully displayed and limited edition adds to the feel of exclusivity.
Traditionally retail landscape in Turkey has been dominated by retails brands of the local producers who along with manufacturing opened own brand stores. Visual merchandising was rudimentary and windows and shelves were overloaded with merchandise. With the advent of the shopping malls many of them moved to the malls, but the move has had little effect on visual merchandising and display. The windows are still overcharged with merchandise. It is noteworthy that local brands like Desa, Sarar, Tween Damat, Ipekyol that have been put through Turquality programme have developed a brand identity that is reflected in the look and feel of their stores.
However, it is Mavi that remains one of the best stores and retail experiences. Windows are regularly updated around themes and merchandise display is very attractive. Sales staff is well trained and helpful. It is indeed a shop that makes you want to shop and become part of the Mavi lifestyle, because it feels like fun.