She has carved a niche for herself as the national brand of Turkey. Her question before she approaches the drawing board is what unique can she create. The 1970 born Cigdem Akin started her career as a designer in 1988 in a leading Turkish fashion house. She went independent in 2004 to launch her eponymous brand and now retails through designer boutiques in Europe, America and the Middle East. Akin talks about the Turkish fashion industry in an interview with Fibre2Fashion.
Fibre2fashion : How would you describe the Turkish fashion industry? How has it evolved over the years?
Turkey in terms of textile raw materials is one of the world's richest countries. It also has a strong timeline and a young workforce. All these factors are very important in the development of fashion as an industry. International standards are the fashion weeks, and yet it has only been 10 seasons. From this point of view, it would not be wrong to say that the fashion industry is still a developing industry. We have always been a region with strong production areas in the global market, and now I think that our veteran designers have reached the point of talking about the creative side of fashion with our young designers. Over the years, our designers have begun to better understand the market and produce jobs for it. We can define this awareness as the first step in establishing Turkish fashion.
Fibre2fashion : What aesthetics and designs are exclusive to Turkey?
If we are talking about an aesthetic and design that belongs to Turkey, it would be correct to begin this sentence with "diversity". The historic ties (that others have) with Turkey have a strong presence in the region. If you live in a geographical area which had great empires in the past, you are expected to have a refined taste and aesthetic understanding. From this point when robes, silk and leather designs are skillfully used, we can vouchsafe say that it belongs to Turkey.
Fibre2fashion : What is the ethos of the brand-Çigdem Akin?
Çigdem Akin is one of Turkey's first designer brands. It has made collections each season for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week and has been able to transfer the brand identity to its followers. Since the day it was established, it has had a sales network spread over the world with its various exhibition linkages. The brand is the first one you think of when you mention timeless design.
Fibre2fashion : How different are the collections of Çigdem Akin for your stores in the US, Middle East and for the European regions? What remains constant?
Like all international brands, Çigdem Akin collections also show changes in the brand and collections according to the target market. This does not mean that the changes have been different designs for those different markets. Whatever the target market, you can feel the key design of the brands' elements in every piece. Those key design elements are timeless. It is an understanding that progresses from raw materials to mastery, and is blended together by mixing different materials.Like all international brands, Çigdem Akin collections also show changes in the brand and collections according to the target market. This does not mean that the changes have been different designs for those different markets. Whatever the target market, you can feel the key design of the brands' elements in every piece. Those key design elements are timeless. It is an understanding that progresses from raw materials to mastery, and is blended together by mixing different materials.
Fibre2fashion : Are there any new markets you plan to enter?
The Çigdem Akin brand is already sold in many designer boutiques in Europe, and the brand has established itself in the Middle Eastern countries as well. I can say that the Far East and the Gulf states are next in line.
Fibre2fashion : What's your trend forecast for A/W 2018-19?
I think we will continue to look for stories in the spaces of space. The sky will always continue to inspire me with its great mystery and its fashion galaxy. At the same time, with the obligation to live together, we are transformed into a century of tolerance, anti-war and awareness. I think new collections will come out of these concepts. Last, I think materials that are not being used in textiles until now will come into the picture, and technology will be more involved in fashion.
Fibre2fashion : Where do you draw inspiration for all your collections from?
If you are trying to live in a way that is accurate and aware, it is enough to inspire life itself. The changing forms of life and habits of human societies have always been an interest of mine. Everything that happens on this blue planet where we live without breaking away from can find their place in my designs. Sometimes this can be a sentence, sometimes built in a city, or a friendly assembly.
Fibre2fashion : Which international designers do you admire the most?
Karl Lagerfeld. Producing unique designs for this giant world better than the last time and that too every season, his is a great talent in being able to create new looks for fashionable legends.
Fibre2fashion : What are your thoughts on sustainable fashion?
We pass through a process where the world and mankind are beginning to produce alternatives that respect nature in every aspect of life. This is also inevitable for me. With today's technology, a fully sustainable fashion is not yet accessible to everyone. The investments made by world famous brands are promising. For years I have tried to focus on organic products as raw material in my own designs and stay away from synthetics. In the future, I will try to make it one of the key elements of my brand.
Fibre2fashion : What are the challenges that the Turkish fashion industry faces?
Investment. We have just about everything in our country for the fashion industry to evolve. Educated brains, young workforce, rich raw materials, skilled craftsmen, an incredible historical heritage, etc, to name a few. The fact that the state does not have a fashion policy is creating lack of resources and bringing difficulties along with it. When we overcome the investment problem in a way, we can see our brands spread all over the world.
Fibre2fashion : Tell us about your collection to be showcased at the upcoming Mercedes Fashion Week in Istanbul.
I got inspiration from women again for my winter collection. I prepared a collection this time because it suggests that the legacy of strong women of history will support us in overcoming the basic problems in the region we live in. The name of my collection is Invitation. It's an invitation to reach the feeling of being what you deeply desire.
Fibre2fashion : What are the plans for your brand?
As long as life goes on, I will continue to design and tell new stories through my collections every season. My biggest goal is to see my brand in a business relationship with other big textile groups.