A host of stylists, couturiers, fashion, accessories, decoration and luxury goods designers have made a hard-earned name for themselves in recent years, both in Istanbul and abroad. A rundown of Turkish designers’ accomplishments, in Istanbul as well as on the international stage. The premier episode of our series on some of the best designers, very chic or very cool, from the Bosphorus.
Over the years, Istanbul has made its mark as a new fashion capital. Undoubtedly, Turkey ranks among the world's leading textile exporting powerhouses – its export wares are eagerly sought in 160 countries, raking in earnings in the area of 15 billion US dollars per annum. Its clientele includes names as famous as Hugo Boss, Balmain, Michael Kors and Zara. But beyond its industrial prowess – or, rather, its manufacturing hardware, its slice of the design market is also rising considerably; i.e. In terms of software or, rather, soft power. It is in this area that Turkey stands out with a fresh pool of homegrown designers and stylists increasingly gaining recognition. The growth in profits propelled by purchases made by Turkish stakeholders – brands, designers and industrial groups combined during Fashion Week and seasonal collections in Paris, London, Milan, New York, Shanghai or Bangkok, is yet another sign underlining this ongoing evolution.
STYLE AND CLASSY DICE KAYEK
The roster of the most renowned istanbulite designers, whether still Turkey-based or stationed abroad, includes names at varying levels of growth, rank and success. The roll call lists brands and names such as Atıl Kutoğlu, Selma Çelik, Dice Kayek or Vakko... These are all popular names for their women's and men's ready-to-wear, textiles, fashion accessories, luxury goodies or footwear. Sometimes still completely unknown to Western, American, African, European or Asian millennials as well as to the international public at large, these names are nonetheless familiar to some of the biggest international fashion and luxury brands - such as Zegna, Prada or Burberry, which have cooperated or are still cooperating with one or the other.
Co-founded by Turkish sisters Ece and Ayse Ege, the Dice Kayek (1) brand was featured in a stunning Vogue editorial back in its 2019. The brand draws its influence from Ottoman artistic and cultural heritage, infusing it with inspirations from contemporary Paris, where the two sisters are based. In 1992, they co-created a universe revolving around art, architectural geometries, cinema and their own memories, giving life to a poetic and no less atypical style, very assumed, with sensual, very feminine silhouettes, made of ballerina dresses, white silk satin tunics, and close-fitting colored drapes. Dice Kayek is always classy and dazzling.
ATIL KUTOGLU DESIGNS DRESSES FOR AUSTRIAN PRINCESSES
Another sure bet of the Turkish fashion scene is the Istanbul-based designer, Atıl Kutoğlu. Equally inspired by Turkey's historical heritage, Kutoğlu founded two brands – Vakko and Beymen to go on a roll in the world of European fashion. Founder of an eponymous brand, Kutoğlu graced the runway with creations to his name in Milan, New York, Munich, and Düsseldorf Fashion Weeks. He rose to the height of fame, however, when he proved himself a worthy royal dressmaker for Austrian princesses Camilla von Habsburg and Francesca von Habsburg, as well as supermodels Naomi Campbell, Karolina Kurkova among other clients. Istanbul-based designer Ozgur Masur also designs extraordinary, romantic outfits for elegant, modern women. He made some name for himself in Europe, in both France and Germany, before debuting his first collection in 2008. He then founded his brand – one that gained immense popularity among Turkish celebrities. There is also the celebrity fashion heavy hitter Arzu Kaprol (2). Establishing her brand in 1998, she has since exhibited her collections in all the trade shows and fashion weeks, from Istanbul to Milan, from Paris to New York. She constantly unveils collections marked by subtle geometries, a sense of freedom marked by audacity, and by surprising details that she likes to put in most of her clothes.
But the very best of Turkish designers may sometimes hide behind unassuming names, known to all on the Bosphorus, or masquerade behind unpretentious initials. This was the case with the overwhelmingly popular brand, Dogo (3). Launched in 2006, Dogo managed to print creative designs on shoes for the first time in the world. It now has five thousand original models designed for its products, shoes, bags as well as fancy articles of clothing and home decorations. Established back in 1992, the Kayra (4) brand has found its place among leading brands in Istanbul and Turkey at large, with a production capacity of half a million pieces annually exported worldwide. Flagship brand Vakko (5), a paragon of Turkish fashion, produces and sells textiles, leather goods and accessories for women and men. Over time, it has managed to metamorphose in Turkey into one of the luxury names!