A design by Özgür Masur from Argande's 2010-2011 fall-winter collection.
Istanbul was abuzz last week about the latest efforts to position the city as a new fashion capital and help Turkey move from manufacturer of raw materials for clothing to purveyor of style. The third Istanbul Fashion Week drew plenty of press and party-goers and even a few fashion-world celebrities. But was there any green substance amid all the glamour? One local blogger spotted a couple of socially conscious designers worth keeping our eyes on.Other than the decidedly style-challenged cloth bags given away to promote the event, international trends toward more eco-friendly attire were represented just twice, the Yeşilist Blog wrote in a post titled, "What was there, what wasn't there at Istanbul Fashion Week?" (The blogger, whose name means something akin to "Greenie," writes in Turkish, which I've attempted to translate.)
NEJ's All-Organic Collections
After working with popular Turkish brands such as Beymen and Derishow, Istanbul-born designer Nejla Güvenç founded her own label, NEJ, in 2002. The "high-energy, genuine, nature-loving" designer, as Yeşilist describes her, uses organic fabrics throughout her collections -- and was the only designer doing so to be represented at Istanbul Fashion Week. The models she sent down the runway with books in hand were largely decked out in intriguing multi-layered dresses and elaborate shoes, though one unfortunate group was subjected to dowdy mechanic-style jumpsuits.
Images of Nejla Güvenç's Istanbul Fashion Week show via Yeliz'in Dünyası.
The Argande show, representing the "only social responsibility project in Turkey's fashion industry," according to Yeşilist, was another standout in terms of style and substance. Part of a United Nations Development Programme project, the Argande Collection is made by almost 150 women in two separate workshops in the southeastern towns of Mardin and Batman. They received training in business and technical skills and developed the line along with professional fashion designers. According to the UNDP:
The women drew inspiration for their designs from traditional Anatolian motifs such as myths, spring festival ceremonies, wedding traditions, and nature. The name Argande also derives from the name of a beautiful goddess and ruler of ancient Mesopotamia.
In addition to boosting the women's incomes and employment prospects, the Argande Collection has also revived "two forgotten traditional fabrics, the woven fabric kutnu and the 100 percent wool woven fabric selşapik," the UNDP wrote. The designs are sold in the popular MUDO chain of stores in Turkey and Argande has seen significant growth in a short period of time -- growth that, Yeşilist wrote, would only be increased by incorporating environmentally friendly fabrics into the clothes as well.
What there was not at Istanbul Fashion Week, however, were any other brands following the example of NEJ and Argande, Yeşilist writes, noting that the last Stockholm Fashion Week, by contrast, had more than 20 eco-designers: "Using organic and ecological fabrics is not just about social responsibility or sustainability, it makes brands more competitive, more attractive." Hopefully next year Istanbul will give other fashion capitals a run for their money in eco-friendly innovation as well.
More about eco-fashion:
In Chicago, A Fashion Show Satisfies Our Love for Recycled Textiles (and Our Sweet Tooth, Too) [Photos]
7 Chic Green Fashion Items Celebrities are Wearing Now
Green Fashion Exhibit at FIT Examines 200 Years of Clothing Manufacturing (Slideshow)
Green Fashion Week Fall 2010: Vaute Couture
7 Must-Read Green Fashion Blogs
Green Fashion: New York Fashion Week Spring 2010 Ethical Fashion Show Highlights (Slideshow)
Green Fashion: 7 Reasons Why You Should Care About Sustainable Fashion
House of Organic Sustainable Fashion Show