Despite operating one of the best clothing manufacturing industries in the world, Turkey is still a largely untapped resource for fashion inspiration. But amid the Covid-induced changes that have sparked a digital switchover, the industry can now capitalize on its biggest event to connect Turkish fashion talent to a global audience.
Together with the Association of Turkish Fashion Designers (MTD) and the Istanbul Fashion Academy (IMA), the Istanbul Clothing Exporters Association (IHKIB) launched the second virtual edition of the Fashion Istanbul Week (FWI) from April 13 to 16, with 30 designer collections. in an off-season digital storefront that features the latest collections of womenswear, menswear, and gender-neutral. The next event for the fall season in October 2021 will be a hybrid event, combining digital elements with the return of physical showrooms.
“Fashion Week pushes designers to their limits because they know they have to prepare an impeccable collection,” said Cem Altan, member of the IHKIB board of directors and chairman of the Istanbul Fashion Week committee. “It helps improve the overall quality of design and production and they bring competitively priced collections to the industry both locally and globally. At FWI, we also support our designers in their international marketing efforts which include collaborating with leading fashion publications as well as effective influencers.
While Turkey is the sixth largest clothing supplier in the world and the third largest in the EU, the manufacturing and design capabilities of the market have not gained sufficient global exposure despite their historical roots in fashion.
Eda Güngör, founder and designer of the luxury brand Museum of Fine Clothing, noted that the Turkish fashion industry still lacks a major promoter for globalization: foreign investment.
“We have the best talent,” said Güngör. “All we need is major support behind us, and it has to come from investors and government.”
FWI has partnered with JOOR to host the event, which has a reach of over 200,000 buyers from 144 countries. Fashion Week Istanbul has its own dedicated space within the B2B platform, making its designer collections available to international buyers, who can view and order the items directly.
“I think the digitization enhanced by Covid has provided unique benefits for fashion events like ours that were originally sidelined by the big fashion weeks,” Altan said. “When we were hosting the physical event, we would invite the press and international buyers to Istanbul. While this was a practical opportunity, given the busy schedules of buyers and publishers, it was difficult to attract the number of industry leaders we were looking for. However, now by collaborating with international digital platforms we can reach our target audience much more directly. In a way, digitization has helped lift natural boundaries and opened a door of opportunity to discover new talent that is more geographically diverse. “
Designers capitalize on creative freedom
This is the second Fashion Week where designers can present their collections online; the first was October 2020. But the event marked the first time that designers had complete creative freedom over how to bring their digital collections to life. The event encouraged participating designers to choose their own location, as well as the theme, season or genre they wanted to feature.
Tuba Ergin, a designer participating in FWI, said this freedom allows “the ultimate stimulation of creativity.” Ergin, who has worked in sustainable fashion for over 10 years, said she shot her runway video in a solar power plant, helping her convey the green concept “much better than a standard runway” .
“I wanted to create a collection that communicates the dream of a world that can be transported to a more responsible, conscious and innovative future,” Ergin told the Sourcing Journal. “With the new collection, I wanted to draw attention to the fact that understanding sustainability in fashion is not only limited to the selection of materials and eco-sustainable production techniques, but also to the energy resources used by manufacturing companies supplying the fashion industry. “
Another designer attending the event, Çiğdem Akin, said the digital atmosphere offered a major advantage, in that she could showcase her fall / winter 2021-2022 collection via a short film that would be shown on a new TV show. fashion audience.
“’Nobody Knows’ was the theme for this year, and it really was the best collection I’ve created this year,” said Akin. “Silk muslin, wool, cashmere and velvet fabrics have found their place in the collection, dominated by luxury fabrics with brocade weaving. The color theme was dark sky blue, which also included cherry, purple, and deep black. “
Each season, FWI offers two seats to dedicated emerging designers, this time selecting Karma and New Gen for the April event. These designers are chosen from graduates of Istanbul Fashion Academy, a leading fashion school also funded by the IHKIB.
While designers can show their collections directly to potential brands, they’re not the only potential beneficiaries of Istanbul Fashion Week, according to Altan. Talents in the industry, including fashion photographers, stylists, producers, musical talents and makeup artists, all gain visibility by collaborating with designers on collections and videos.
“Our aim has always been to showcase Turkish talents from all branches of the industry to the world stage,” said Altan.