Efforts to make Istanbul a major and recognized fashion capital are paying off. Turkey has become the world’s 5th largest textile exporter – Europe’s second largest supplier – and Turkish designers and stylists are now emerging on the international scene, revealed by the many fashion events of the year organized in the most beautiful palaces of Istanbul.
A sign among others of a development which does not deceive: in the summer of 2009, the Turkish megalopolis hosted the first edition of the Istanbul Fashion Days. Closely followed by the fashion and lifestyle press from Istanbul, Paris, London or Milan, this fashion event brought together emerging brands and stylists, a host of new talents from Istanbul and the Turkish scene, and impressed with the quality of his parades. A year later, Istanbul shone a little further by becoming the “European Capital of Culture 2010” and the fashion scene was once again highlighted.
A TEXTILE INDUSTRY IN FULL SHAPE
No surprise that the Fashion Days were launched, then, by the powerful Association of Turkish Ready-to-Wear and Textile Exporters (ITKIB): Turkish textile manufacturers (experts in silk, cotton and wool) developed over the past two decades to the point of rising into the Top 5 of the world’s leading producers – with a strong predominance in the production of cotton fabrics. In 2018, the Turkish textile industry accumulated an order book of US $ 9 billion. Nothing that happens by chance. Turkey and the former Ottoman power have always been, in truth, an empire of textiles and clothing. Turkey has, in fact, returned to its former positions over time.
With a nuance of size – and size XXL: for ten years also, with the evolution of customs and in parallel with economic growth, purchasing power and social networks, the Turkish fashion scene has modernized, off the beaten track, to successfully embrace the major international fashion trends. The street in Istanbul has seen all the variations of streetwear and especially urban chic – a big local trend – for couples, artistic and cultural events or glamorous evenings, halfway between casual style and ready-to-wear man and woman. More and more young Turkish designers are invited to prove themselves at the fairs and catwalks of fashion capitals.
VOGUE AND GLAMOR LAUNCHED IN TURKISH
Ten years after the launch of Fashion Days, the fashion scene in Istanbul has become more sophisticated. This is further evidenced by the launch, in 2019, of Fashionable Istanbul in which established local brands and stylists, VIPs, such as the Israeli top model Bar Refaeli (who chaired the event) and famous international designers and fashion designers, including , also, a guest of honor, the Italian Roberto Cavalli – who had inaugurated his first boutique in Istanbul in 2003. As a sign of the times, several big names have joined the fashion shows of the first Fashionable Istanbul such as Vivienne Westwood, Salvatore Ferragamo, Missoni (with the presence of Angela Missoni) or Gianfranco Ferré – relations between Turkey and Italy, always very close, creating the bridge between East and West. Events often organized in the most beautiful historic places and palaces of the city – also proven by the fashion show organized by IFA Paris in spring 2019 in the Roman cistern of Theodose II or Serefiye Sarnici.
The advent of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Istanbul (1), organized twice a year and aimed at the same audience as Fashion Week in Paris, Milan, New York or Shanghai, still marks the consecration of the Turkish fashion capital , seen more and more as at the confluence of the influences of the creative cultures of Europe, Asia and Africa. A plethora of 41 creators had presented their collections during the 28 parades organized during the 2019 edition, in the presence of 5000 journalists and influencers from around the world. If the first edition 2020 could not take place, epidemic crisis obliges, its promotion continues online and via various digital events while waiting for its next holding.
Bringing together distinct styles and innovative clothing, Istanbul, is seen as the new unusual and trendy meeting point, clearly asserts itself as a new international capital of style, fashion and luxury. A trend illustrated in recent years by the launch of the Turkish edition of Vogue (in 2010) and Glamor (in 2016). Turkish creators previously moved to London (like Hussein Chalayan) or Paris. Today, they are back in Istanbul and few of them try the adventure elsewhere, apart from a few well-established big names like the beautiful haute couture house Dice Kayek, whose founder is based in Paris.
The strength of the Turkish textile industry, recognized today worldwide for its quality (it has risen to the rank of second partner of the European Union behind China), also explains the new strength of Turkish stylists and Istanbul designers in the patterns – such as Arzu Kaprol, Ece Özalp or the fashion designer Desa who collaborates squarely with Prada, Miu Miu or Burberry -, the materials, the prints. As if they were suddenly at the forefront of a new guard!