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courtesy of Fashion Week Istanbul; Nihan Peker

Fashion Week Istanbul to place spotlight on Turkish fashion

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

Apr. 13, 2021

Fashion Week Istanbul launches today with a virtual four-day event featuring 30 established and upcoming designers, including Dice Kayek and Zeynep Tosun, who have all produced short films to showcase their collections.

This season the biannual event is being relaunched by the Istanbul Ready-to-Wear and Apparel Exporters’ Association (IHKIB), under the leadership of the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Trade, after ending their ongoing partnership with Mercedes-Benz.

The fashion event is also being supported by the Turkey Promotion Group (TTG), the Fashion Designers Association (MTD) and Istanbul Fashion Academy (IMA) established under Turkey Exporters Assembly (TIM).

Organisers are looking to introduce Turkish designers and brands to a global audience, as they look to transform Turkey as an important hub in the global fashion industry, beyond its current identity as a leading apparel and textile manufacturer. It hopes to accelerate this through the creation of a Turkish Fashion Council, to not only nurture local talent but to help develop partnerships to drive forward the Turkish fashion industry.

courtesy of Fashion Week Istanbul; Lug Von Siga

On the opening day, New Gen by Istanbul Fashion Academy will place the spotlight on five young talents, Aycan Hakalmaz, Ezgi Yildirim, Beyza Eyuboglu, Avishan Daneshfar, and Essin Baris, followed by fashion films from Mehmet Emiroglu, Ceren Ocak, Niyazi Erdoğan, Nedo by Nedret Taciroğlu, Tagg, Lug Von Siga and Dice Kayek.

Other designers taking part includes Çiğdem Akın, Cihan Nacar, the Museum of Fine Clothing, Hakaan Yıldırım, Hatice Gökçe, Mehtap Elaidi, Meltem Özbek, Mert Erkan, Murat Aytulum, Nej, Nihan Peker, Özgür Masur, Özlem Kaya, Özlem Süer, Sudi Etuz, Red Bears, Tuba Ergin, Tuvanam, Y Plus, Zeynep Erdoğan, and Zeynep Tosun.

Fashion Week Istanbul relaunching with digital showcase from April 13-16

To find out more about what Fashion Week Istanbul has installed for this season and beyond, FashionUnited chatted over e-mail to Seda Domaniç, founding editor-in-chief of Vogue Turkey, who is consulting with organisers, and Banu Bölen, director of Turkish Fashion Designers Association and a member of Fashion Week Istanbul executive committee.

What can we expect from Fashion Week Istanbul this season and how are you embracing the current digital formats of fashion week?

Seda Domaniç: While we all miss physical fashion weeks to a certain extent, I believe this year’s enforced digitalisation provided some unique advantages for fashion events like ours that were originally side-lined by major fashion weeks. When we had the physical event, we used to invite international press and buyers to Istanbul. While this was a hands-on experience, the numbers were always limited and given the very busy schedule of buyers and editors, it was difficult to attract industry leaders.

By collaborating with international digital platforms we can reach our target audience much more directly. In a way, digitalisation helped to lift the natural boundaries and opened a gate of opportunity for the discovery of new and geographically more diversified talent.

How many designers are taking part this season?

Seda Domaniç: So, this season we are running a completely digital, season-less and gender-neutral event with 30 independent designers showcasing their collections via a free fashion film format. Along with streamlining the films, we are also hosting live sessions on Clubhouse and Instagram where we discuss the new directions the fashion industry is taking.

Running as a digital event this season, we are also carrying our buying experience to digital platforms. This year Fashion Week Istanbul signed a special partnership with the leading global digital showroom Joor, which has a reach to over 200,000 buyers from 144 countries. Fashion Week Istanbul has its own dedicated space and the collections of all our designers are available to international buyer’s review and orders through this digital platform.

courtesy of Fashion Week Istanbul; Meltem Özbek

How is the fashion event supporting emerging Turkish talent?

Seda Domaniç: Fashion Week Istanbul supports designers all the way from the production of their imagery, production of their runway shows/fashion films, to providing marketing and sales support. Once the production stage is over, we provide funding and guidance to marketing their collections internationally.

We have formed a number of international media partnerships such as those we have with Vogue Runway and Business of Fashion. We also work with prominent international fashion influencers and fashion publications. In terms of sales efforts, we are working with digital showrooms and provide consultancy services for increasing sales.

Which emerging designers should FashionUnited readers look out for?

Seda Domaniç: We always support the emergence of new talent. Every season we have two dedicated spots for emerging designers, which are fully sponsored by Istanbul Ready-to-Wear and Apparel Exporters Association (IHKIB). One is called Karma, the other is called New Gen. These designers are chosen among the graduates of Istanbul Fashion Academy, a prominent fashion school also funded by IHKIB.

Additionally, for the past 28 years, the organisers of Fashion Week Istanbul also organises a competition called KOZA for scouting and supporting new talent.

courtesy of Fashion Week Istanbul; Tagg

Are there any designers doing anything unique to look forward to?

Banu Bölen: Dice Kayek’s suspenseful yet stylish short movie, directed by Marie Schuller is quite exciting. Ozgur Masur, co-president of the Fashion Designers’ association has also directed his own collections film, so we are quite excited to see his work both as a designer as well as a director.

Zeynep Tosun’s women warriors in couture will be showcasing the collection with an ancient ritual at the antique city of Ephesus, founded first in 6000 BC by women warriors and named Arzawa – city of the Goddess.

Many contemporary designers such as Tagg and Ceren Ocak have used Istanbul’s iconic landmarks as film locations. Sudi Etüz is also the one to look for as it combines digital with reality like a video game.

courtesy of Fashion Week Istanbul; Mehtap Elaidi

What can we expect from Fashion Week Istanbul in the future?

Seda Domaniç: The long term goal is to have at least five Turkish brands to be listed among the top 100 international fashion brands. We are targeting to develop partnerships between our designers and Turkish apparel exporters, where the creativity of one matches the highly skilled manufacturing capacity of the other – supporting fashion brands that are strong in terms of both creativity, quality and production capacity.

To achieve that, we are in the process of establishing a Turkish Fashion Council with the participation of fashion editors, buyers and industry leaders. The council will guide and help develop our designers and industry partnerships.

For next season in October, we are planning to organise a hybrid phygital event, also we want Fashion Week Istanbul to be an event not only for fashion shows but a multidisciplinary festival that brings together different realms of Turkey’s creative community. I believe if fashion weeks are going to stay relevant to today’s world it cannot just be about fashion shows and the display of collections, they need to incorporate other forms of art and more interactivity.

Fashion Week Istanbul takes place digitally between April 13 and 16.