Over the course of multiple decades, Turkey has successfully positioned itself as a manufacturing hub to be reckoned with. From high-end apparel entities like Balmain and Hugo Boss, to fast-fashion retailers known the world over, Western companies have been taking production eastward when looking to indulge in the best of both worlds: fair pricing and quality. Now, it seems, the nation with a population of roughly 80 million, is looking to take its fashion cred from behind the scenes, to front of stage.
“Our main aim right now is to export brands, so people understand that Turkey doesn’t just produce, but also designs,” says Volkan Atik, Vice-President of the Istanbul Apparel Exporters Association (IHKIB). At present, exports of Turkish-made apparel make for €17 billion. This number accounts for 20% of Turkey’s total annual export revenues, according to the IHKIB Vice-President. Europe, till date, is the country’s most important partner, covering 75% of all exports. In his quest to make Turkey the next best thing in fashion design, Atik is joined by Banu Bölen, Director of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Istanbul. The fashion week wrapped up its latest edition on a recent Friday, largely representing the three fashion categories enjoying the most commercial success locally: couture, eveningwear, and more recently, streetwear. In keeping with its push for commerce, the Istanbul-based fashion week had about 150 fashion buyers in attendance over the course of five days.