Berlin is a home base for many; from expats and artists to musicians and fashion designers, the cultural melting pot lends itself to any type of wanderer and creator. Gülriz, a fashion designer and enthusiast felt the creative vibe not only in Berlin, but in Istanbul as well and with an urge to connect the two, created Istanbul Next, a cohesive group of Turkish designers and collections who will present at Berlin Fashion Week. These collections will be showing at Capsule Berlin, which happily starts today.
Read on to hear what Gürliz has to say about the show, her inspirations, favorite designers and excitement regarding Berlin Fashion Week.
We Are The Market: What initially prompted you to start Istanbul Next?
Gülriz Egilmez: I missed a connecting link between these two cool cities in terms of fashion. While working as fashion designer myself in Berlin with my own label I travelled back and forth to Istanbul. I realized that there was an enormous design potential besides textiles and production but also realized that it wasn't that well transported to the outside. This was the starting point to start the platform.
GE: I look for innovation in different aspects. Could be the use of new materials, mixing them, playing with prints, playing with shapes and forms, all in all challenging perspectives in fashion. Being a designer means you have to have a global open-minded mindset but mixing global universal aspects with your perception of heritage, tradition and local influences make fashion more lively. Also having a signature or working on it is crucial in order to set yourself apart. Last but not least is the quality of your designs in terms of production and fabrics.
WATM: What is the selection process like in choosing the featured designers?
GE: I am very well connected in the Istanbul and Berlin fashion scene and have my eyes and ears everywhere. I am constantly looking what's going on and who is up next. Also the dialogue with designers is very important in order to see where they are and what they have in mind. Having been a designer myself and worked in all areas connected to fashion makes it easy for me to understand other designers and their problems. My network provides me with new talents whom I talk to and then suggest to my cultural attache, Gözde Sahin, in Berlin whom I work with. As the project is funded by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism we together make the final decision in order to present ISTANBUL NEXT. Future of Fashion Design. Made in Turkey with the main focus on DESIGN.
WATM: How is this group different from last years group?
GE: Last year's group were the first to present themselves as new talents of Istanbul fashion design scene to an international audience. They represented a variety of styles and people were impressed with the diversity. They weren't that different as this year's group actually as all of them are talented designers with their own signature.
This year we have the chance to present already four which makes me even more happy. Asli Filinta's quirky styles are already sold in many countries, Ece Gözen won last year's VOGUE Talents Young Vision Award, Nazli Bozdag is a young but experienced leather designer who challenges the material and Nevra Karaca No.7 grays the boundaries between art, design and architecture by multi-layered and multi dimensional designs. I think Istanbul and turkish designers are now on the forefront of a young design scene to present themselves in an international context.
WATM: What inspires you in your fashion choices?
GE: My fashion choices are two-sided: on the one hand I am a serious advocate of simplicity in the purest sense. Stripping clothes down to the elements in order to mix them up with unusual non-simple items. This is the other side, my Jekyll&Hyde eclectic sense of style. I think fashion is about expressing yourself, against rebelling to common visions, using your style to expose a certain mindset. By being a person working in fashion I feel also obliged to talk about and make people aware of working conditions in the fashion industry. Having the luxury to buy 2 clothing is made possible by letting people work in third-world countries in extreme working environments. We as the people working in fashion have to make others aware of what's going on and what choices you can make in order to participate in making things get better step by step.
GE: I was born in Turkey, grew up in Germany and was socialized and influenced as a person in Berlin. Berlin for me always meant freedom: Freedom in exposing your ideas, sharing your visions with others and freedom of experiementing with styles. Growing up here in the Nineties had a huge impact on me with all its freedom, youth culture, music scene, political issues and the power that lied underneath it all. Fashionwise it came out of the closet just recently but as a homebase the most important thing for me is that it is my home and my base with my family, my friends and all its weird energy.
WATM: You are in your second year of Istanbul Next, what are your dreams for it's future?
GE: My aim for ISTANBUL NEXT is to work my best in presenting turkish designers and design to an international audience. I started with Berlin because of my existing network here. But most important is the state funding guaranteed by the ministry of culture and tourism with which we are able to do this all. Working on the best presentation possible with Capsule Tradeshow and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin is crucial right now. ISTANBUL NEXT is making itself heard here in order to grow.
Fashion is a global communicator and so my dreams are to expand the presentation to other fashion-capitals like London or Paris. I think that Istanbul's voice as a design hub will be heard more frequently in recent years.
WATM: Who are your favorite designers?
GE: Fashions fade, style is eternal is a quote of the late Yves Saint Laurent which decorated my shop for a long time. You don´t need fashion to be stylish because to me it´s in the mind. So Yves Saint Laurent, Coco Chanel, Halston and Jil Sander among the "old guard" of designers and Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Phoebe Philo, Stefano Pilati and Riccardo Tisci to name but a few among the newer vanguard.
WATM: Where are your favorite places to shop in Berlin?
GE: Shopping in Berlin have always been about second-hand and vintage. Since I was a teenager we strolled fleamarkets and shops in order to find the latest stuff for the next party. Fortunately shops like Wood Wood in Mitte, Cabinet 206, VOO Store, The Corner and Andreas Murkudis elevated the shopping experience to a whole new level. Again it's all about the mix in Berlin.
In Berlin? Check out Instanbul Next at Capsule Berlin today and tomorrow.