Just like the country itself recently named “the coolest” country in Europe by the Newsweek, Turkish fashion is fast ascending to the coolest status. As Feride Tansug, owner of l’Appartpr Istanbul, points out just five years ago the situation was different. Turkey was producing orders for overseas brands, local retail brands sticking to the model of volume production and retail outlet multiplication churning out good quality commercial collections mirroring international trends with minimal attention to design. Few were those who worked on building own brands with international appeal, and if they did, they would use foreign designers. However, the situation is quite different now...
A stand out example of international success and global recognition is the Mavi brand launched by Sait Akarlilar in 1991. A self made man Sait Akarlilar has had the ambitious vision to take Mavi international. Since then what started as a jeans brand has become a global life style brand with a distinct Mediterranean identity.
Mavi is the second largest shop on Union Square in New York. Today the brand has a turnover of 250 million dollars and its collections are sold in over 50 countries. According to polls carried out by "Capital" and "Adekko" magazines in 2003 students of Turkish universities name Mavi Jeans brand as second in popularity after C-Cola.
Also smaller brands and independent boutiques are popping up everywhere.
Sansim Sudi and Bahar Arasan, childhood friends turned business partners, just opened Kumpanya 62, their own boutique in the fashionable Nisantasi shopping district. Kumpanya is an innovative retail concept for Istanbul. It provides space to young designers (fifteen) to showcase their work without consignment charges and rail fees.
Sudi and Bahar define a collections theme and then Kumpanya designers work around it to produce a cohesive collection. Each piece is made in the atelier in the basement of the shop. The result --limited edition pieces exquisitely executed with strong appeal. Passionate about creating their own proudly Turkish brand Sansim Sudi and Bahar Arasan dream of exporting, conquering new markets and getting involved in international projects.
L’Appartpr Istanbul has a growing portfolio of Turkish young designers it promotes internationally. Sometimes Feride Tansug, the owner, has to put potential clients on hold for fear of stretching human resources of the agency. But they keep knocking on her door with interesting collections and original stories.