Representing

Meet the four designers making waves at Istanbul Fashion Week
Fashion | 12 January 2022
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Stylist

Taking place last October, Istanbul Fashion Week saw a new guard of artisanal talent add their imprint to Turkey’s rich history of traditional artisan craft. Many talented designers show returned to the city’s schedule, like Nazlican and Ezgi Karayel, while this year, two graduates of Istanbul’s Moda Academy, Gökhan Yavaş and Selen Akyüz, stood out for their singular visions; translating societal and ethical stories through a contemporary voice. Spotlighting these four designers below, they talk us through their processes and ambitions.

 

Selen Akyuz

What does Istanbul fashion mean to you?
“İstanbul is a city that never sleeps with a population of over fifteen million. The city is actually a bridge with Europe and Asia and therefore welcomes different cultures. While walking around the streets, you may see an African person wearing a traditional garment or you may see historical Byzantium Motifs on a church, at the same time, same street. As a designer, the city provides you an endless inspiration source with its diversity.”

What stories do you hope to tell through your work?
“I think clothing is a part of visual communication that shows your personality. My story is all about making unique and characteristic clothes. I think buying less, choosing the perfect fit and wearing the garments… not being a part of the endless consumption is the entire story of my brand. After presenting the general collection, I produce each piece made-to-measure and re-design the details of the pieces according to costumer’s character and body shape, in that way, they always feel unique.”

How would you define your design ethos?
“There are a lot of  disciplines that I care about and that change my view on how design should be considered and its purpose. Design brings connections not only among people, but also among different systems; both tangible social systems within societies and intangible value systems that govern culture.”

Can you outline your ambitions for the future?
“I aim to continue to produce limited and special products without causing a consumption frenzy – I would like my customer base to feel more like special fashion collectors.”

ALL CLOTHING BY SELEN AKYÜZ SS22; BOOTS BY NAZLICAN

GOKHANYAVAS

What does Istanbul fashion mean to you?
“Istanbul is one of the largest metropolitan cities in the world, which contains millions of stories. For this reason, it becomes difficult to say only this or that when Istanbul fashion is mentioned. We all have a different perspective and a different journey in this city. For me, Istanbul fashion means a feast created by the blending of different cultures that include the Byzantine, Ottoman and Turkish Republic.

The fact all four seasons are experienced together is a great advantage for a colour-loving designer like me. Every season, the city surprises you with different colours and textures. In short, Istanbul Fashion is like an endless guide for me.”

What stories do you hope to tell through your work?
“While telling my collection stories, I always try to be inspired by human-based things from our past, present or possible future. Sometimes a character in the book I’m reading can guide my collection, sometimes it’s a house I come across while walking. Every story directs us to be on that journey, which pushes us to reach different people in each collection – to be influenced by them and to write different stories together. For example, IMBAT, my spring-summer collection, tells the story of my childhood when I was living in the Aegean Region, its culture, colourful streets and adorable people.”

How would you define your design ethos?
“We stepped into the industry to offer elegance and originality of design as an alternative to streetwear. Based on the colours and life of the city, we offer an affordable design luxury that carries the spirit of urban youth. Although the brand is categorised as a men’s fashion clothing brand, we call ourselves genderless in patterns, colours, lines and cuts. In addition, we do not use any leather and fur products, and in this way we are trying to strive for animal rights.

Can you outline your ambitions for the future?
“I founded my brand in 2017. When I look back on the past four years, I think I have taken my steps well and I am on the right path. This year, with my SS22 collection, I took part in Fashion Scout, which was held as part of the London Fashion Week, which was is my first experience abroad. My main goal is to advance in the foreign market like Northern Europe and Asia. Collaborations are also very important and for this reason, I plan to continue our collaborations with companies from different disciplines. Although there is a little more time for this, I definitely aim to represent my country and Turkish Design in a global contest.”

ALL CLOTHING BY GOKHANYAVAS ̧ SS22

Ezgi Karayel

What does Istanbul fashion mean to you?
“Unpredictable… full of surprises…”

What stories do you hope to tell through your work?
“Everyone tries to find meaning in life, to understand the point of being. I do the same through design. So my inspirations are mostly personal curiosities about myself. The stories I want to tell change as I change.”

How would you define your design ethos?
“I don’t have a design ethos. I have business ethos. That is quality and honesty.”

Can you outline your ambitions for the future?
“Someone said, “Everything has a coast, that of freedom is the heaviest.” In future, I want to keep doing what I want, listen to nobody. Freedom is my only ambition. This stubbornness didn’t take me far so far. Let’s hope otherwise.”

ALL CLOTHING BY EZGI KARAYEL; BOOTS BY NAZLICAN

Nazlıcan Türker

What does Istanbul fashion mean to you?
“Not only Istanbul fashion, but the concept of ‘fashion’ does not mean much to me because it has started to [shift towards] stronger expressions [due to] the pandemic. I think it will start to take its place in our lives with new and innovative stories by including concepts such as sustainability and slow fashion.”

What stories do you hope to tell through your work?
“My primary goal is to create experimental styles with innovative ideas by reflecting the stories related to the culture I live.”

How would you define your design ethos?
“I love to share my emotions with the audience, [I want them to] look at my collections like art pieces.”

Can you outline your ambitions for the future?
“My future goal is not different from now, to continue to create. To convey this to the audience along with the work – because we all have a story and that makes us unique.”

ALL CLOTHING AND BOOTS BY NAZLICAN

MODEL JASON HARDERWIJK AT STORM; HAIR SHARON ROBINSON USING ORIBE; FASHION ASSISTANT RIO CAVELLE

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