Istanbul isn’t somewhere you’d first associate as a fashion hub. Walking the streets of the Turkish capital, you’re not hit with a distinct sense of creative freedom: the street-style falls on the conservative side, which is owed to the largely Muslim population and tumultuous political climate.
However, bubbling in the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Istanbul show space there was a different story to be told. MBFW offered up three-days of emerging designers, New Gen talent and local names, hailing from Turkey. Rousing sets, loud music, and young designers with something to say for themselves were the order of the day – and that was all before we get to the fashion.
It seems apparent that the fashion world in Istanbul operates as a form of escapism and self-expression: it’s a space to be unapologetic, particularly for young designers studying in the city.
“There’s is a lot of support for the young designers in Turkey,” says Raf Stesmans, Creative Director & Fashion Design Lecturer at Istanbul Moda Academy.
“It’s a culture mix. There’s a lot of ready to wear here in Turkey and we produce a lot for brand’s outside of Turkey.
“It’s an advantage to be in Turkey, you can immediately develop a print and the next day it’s ready. In London or Belgium you have to wait two or three weeks. They are focused on production here so you can immediately try a digital print and its ready.”
Speaking about how Turkey fashion is moving forward, Stesmans says “It’s not always easy in Turkey, a lot happens. It’s slowly moving but it’s moving.”
The founders of Brand Who, Volkan Güzelce and Koray Arıcı, who showed their collection on the schedule, concurred, saying: “We have our own unique language in Turkey, we are trying to put something else on from the international world. That’s what makes us different from other fashion designers internationally.
“We love to push limits, we are trying new patterns, new colours. Right now we are not really strong as a country but we are coming up. ”
From Brand Who’s buzzed-about streetwear, to Mehtap Elaidi’s heritage pieces, and Meltem Ozbek’s covetable evening-wear, we round up five Turkish designers to get on your radar.
With a headline show on the schedule – sponsored by Mercedes-Benz as part of MB presents – Brand Who were one of the most-buzzed about designers.
The menswear brand (who told us they weren’t opposed to a foray into womenswear – stay tuned) is known for its urban yet elevated streetwear. Founders of Brand Who, Volkan Güzelce and Koray Arıcı, presented their new ‘Sunseeker’ collection, an homage to the colours of the light, which showed a collection of relaxed beach styles, sunset hues and painterly accessories.
“The idea is making practical easy wear clothes off the beach and the guy is looking for the beach,” they told us.
With a headline show on the schedule – sponsored by Mercedes-Benz as part of their International Designer Exchange Program (IDEP) – Brand Who were one of the most talked about designers. For almost a decade, the program has given up and coming designers an opportunity to present their collections outside of their local markets to an international audience.
Mehtap Elaidi’s spring summer 2019 collection showed a wardrobe every girl dreams of owning: luxurious silk kimonos, bell-sleeved sequin dresses, Babouche mules and high-shine head-ties included.
Elaidi’s collection masterfully ties in her Turkish heritage with hues of midnight blue, deep reds, and sleek textiles while her experimental cuts (a brand trademark) took centre stage.
Stunning fringed evening dressed, ethereal lace creations and silk slip skirts made up Meltem Ozbek’s collection. The Izmir-native is gaining recognition in her home country, for her covetable evening-wear.
Exquise focuses on strong workmanship and quality materials in all production processes, which was apparent in the brand’s spring summer 2019 collection. With a distinctly feminine selection of sheer blouses, ruffled skirts and 50s swimmer hats and sunglasses, it’s sure to be a successful collection.
Tuba Ergin’s designs cater for the “strong, environmentally conscious and refined women”, as the brand outlines in their mission statement. Inspired by art, natural materials, technology and street cultures, Ergin’s spring summer 2019 collection included dark and grungy net dresses, gothic chic jumpsuits and heavy duty utility boots.
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