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Start-ups betting big on Istanbul as an emerging global fashion hub

"After scouting for the most promising location for her swimwear line, Sama Danesh set up a factory in Istanbul in 2015. Being in the business, she knew Turkey is home to many fashion houses but she was apprehensive about the fate of a small start-up. Admiring Turkish workers’ craftsmanship, as they focus a lot on detailing in pattern-cutting and construction using sculptured fabric, wiring and boning, which is needed to create the silhouettes for her swimsuits. Her swimsuits cost about $385."

 

 

Start ups betting big on Istanbul as an emerging

 

After scouting for the most promising location for her swimwear line, Sama Danesh set up a factory in Istanbul in 2015. Being in the business, she knew Turkey is home to many fashion houses but she was apprehensive about the fate of a small start-up. Admiring Turkish workers’ craftsmanship, as they focus a lot on detailing in pattern-cutting and construction using sculptured fabric, wiring and boning, which is needed to create the silhouettes for her swimsuits. Her swimsuits cost about $385.

Dealing with uncertainties

Start ups betting big on Istanbul as an emerging global fashion hub

 

Major political upheavals and volatile economic climate always overshadows Istanbul’s potential and that’s what is marring industrial growth in the region. Due to political uncertainties, Danesh reminisced it used to be a nightmare to do business in the city. There were delivery delays. Many pieces in Danesh’s initial 2017 summer collection were so delayed they had to be released as part of her subsequent cruise collection. Owing to this, she has moved shipping to Britain, which eats into margins but has also reduced the risk of delivery delays.

Amid this chaos, Istanbul is finding its feat in establishing itself as the upcoming fashion hub. A manufacturing center for mass-market retailers like Marks & Spencer and Inditex, as well as luxury labels like Burberry and Hugo Boss, today the city has become a hub for the fast-growing Modest Fashion Movement geared to style-conscious Islamic women. It is also home to a slew of designers with a Western aesthetic who have expanded their businesses internationally.

Starting small

There are other small design studios that still upbeat about the fortunes of the city. Manu Atelier is a small, family-run accessories label housed in an 18th-century building on a paved street in the Beyoglu district, an ancient quarter known for its leatherwork trade. Founded in 2014 by Merve and Beste Manastir, daughters of a leather craftsman who personally signs off on every piece, the company has grown rapidly in the last three years, thanks to savvy use of social media. Manastir says locally, people have been less keen to go out and spend money, and visitor numbers are down. While they are proud of Turkish manufacturing roots, in terms of their identity, they consider themselves a global luxury lifestyle brand.

Ece and Ayse Ege too feels the same, they set up their couture and ready-to-wear label Dice Kayek in 1992, and celebrated. Although they split their time between Paris and Istanbul, their atelier has always been in the heart of their home city. For them, it has become cheaper to make garments, which they can sell in Euros. They supply all of the raw materials and produce everything in Turkey. She also added that the company was more vulnerable to the volatility within the broader fashion industry than that of the Turkish political situation.

Many homegrown designers are upbeat about the evolutionary landscape that the city is witnessing and are ready to take the much needed risk to offer locals most stylish & trendy clothes. It’s just a matter of time when the political instabilities settle down and they can establish their market in this upcoming fashion hub where fashion & tradition go hand in hand.

 
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