Despite ongoing socio-political instability, Turkey has managed to position itself as a global textile and apparel manufacturing hub over the last few decades. Indeed, according to market research firm Statista, Turkey’s textile exports continue to generate an annual turnover of roughly EUR€30 billion – a value which has more than doubled in twenty years.
Thanks to the country’s low labor costs, flexible production capabilities and a close proximity to Europe, luxury brands like Burberry and Hugo Boss have long established their production there to benefit from nearshoring. Unsurprisingly, Turkish designers are also leveraging this buoyant textile industry; many have successfully established their labels and built a loyal following locally.
Now, it seems, the international limelight is shifting from production to design, as an increasing number of local designers quietly make their mark overseas. And, with once emerging fashion weeks like Copenhagen quickly maturing in global prominence, the opportunity looks ripe for Istanbul Fashion Week to sweep in and take its place.
With the country’s 14th fashion week season drawing to a close last week, ORDRE looks at the designers disrupting Turkish fashion and gaining momentum on an international scale.
Establishing her eponymous label in 2016, Gul Hurgel is wooing fashion buyers and royalty alike - from Koi Bird’s Belma Gaudio to Lady Amelia Windsor. Her signature linen dresses with vibrant hues, whimsical patterns and feminine frills, are inspired by the Meditteranean and Turkey’s rich cultural heritage. Thanks to a growing number of local and international fans, the label has quickly secured top luxury retailers like Mytheresa, The Webster, and Beymen.
Sister design duo Basak and Defne Kocabiyikoglu launched Nackiyé in 2018. Combining their fashion business acumen – Defne is a trained trend-forecaster and Basak a former buyer for Browns – their collections draw inspiration from their childhood memories of Istanbul in the '80s. Think Silk satin harem trousers and elegant caftans in gem tones, which would sit right at home on a yacht in the Meditteranean sea or on the sun-soaked waterfronts of Saint Tropez. Recently picked up by the likes of Net-A-Porter, Nackiyé’s global clientele includes A-lister Brie Larson and creative director Ada Kokosar.
Establishing her namesake label in early 2000, Mehtap Eiladi is perhaps one of Turkey’s more renowned designers. Her collections have consistently stayed at the forefront of Turkish fashion thanks to their global commercial appeal. Blending casual elegance with practical ease, SS’20 featured structured poplin shirts, silk tailored trousers and flowing draped dresses in a palette of reds, caramels, pinks, and mints. Over the years the label has carefully grown its retail presence worldwide; it currently includes Harvey Nichols in Riyadh and Piaff in Beirut, as well Farfetch and Yoox online.
Designer Şansım Adalı launched Sudi Etuz in 2008 with a focus on hyper-feminism. For SS’19, the designer showed on schedule at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi, debuting on international soil for the first time. Aladi’s voluminous tulle dresses, and juxtaposing bandeau tops and sleek trousers are loved by international superstars like Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX.
Ready-to-wear is not the only sector showing strong promise in Turkish design. Learning about the leather trade from their father – one of Istanbul’s oldest handcraft leather goods producers – sisters Beste and Merve co-founded their handbag label Manu Atelier in 2014. Today the brand can be found at world renowned retailers like Selfridges, Saks Fifth Avenue and Galerie Lafayette. Its trademark cylinder handbags and square-heeled boots have been spotted on the likes of buyers, influencers, and even the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.