Interview Irina Romashevskya Images Courtesy Of Zeynep Tosun
Zeynep Tosun is a young Turkish fashion designer with so much potential it would make an established designer jealous. Zeynep’s refined design aesthetic, deep connection to her country’s heritage and the ability to present 2 collections (ready-to-wear and couture) every season make her one of the top up-and-coming fashion designers to watch.
Irina Romashevskaya: Your biography as a designer is already pretty impressive; having worked for Alberta Feretti’s Philosophy line and consulted other known fashion brands, how different is it for you to have your own clothing line?
Zeynep Tosun: Having a brand of my own was the ultimate dream all along. I had two options: staying abroad and working for a top fashion brand and eventually getting promoted to a creative director position, or establishing my own label and competing with those top fashion companies. Both options would’ve equally taken a lot of time and effort to accomplish, so establishing my own brand was a natural choice. My current goal is to make Zeynep Tosun brand into one of the world’s most renowned.
You started your label with a couture collection in 2008 and now you have both couture and ready-to-wear lines. Is it difficult to manage both? Which line do you enjoy working on the most?
It is a lot of fun but at the same time extremely difficult to handle both -- after all there are only several designers in Turkey who can manage to do that. You have to be an “establishment” to pursue this kind of work. But the process of creation is so exhilarating that I enjoy every bit of it. I actually prefer working on my ready-to-wear line more than on a couture one. Couture clothing is created for one person and for one night only, whereas ready-to-wear is a lot more comprehensive. However, in Turkey one can earn a significant amount of money designing couture.
In 2007 you participated in ITKIB fashion contest with other young designers from Turkey. How would you describe Turkish designers? What sets them apart?
Turkey is known for its textiles, but not so much for its fashion designers. We have really limited opportunities in terms of creation and execution. Textile mills are not willing to supply us with fabrications hence we are not doing large-scale manufacturing. Designers in London or Paris, however, don’t have that problem.
Do you think you’ll continue working in Istanbul or would you consider moving abroad to gain global recognition? What is the advantage of working in Turkey?
I have been showcasing my collections at London Fashion Week for the past three seasons, and I attend Paris Fair every year. I am also doing all my research abroad; I keep up with the exhibitions and I read a lot of books. But I will always manufacture my clothing in Turkey. It’s a lot more convenient and, besides, I like to contribute to my country’s economy.
Your last few collections where a bit more colorful than when you started, you currently use a lot of embellishments and prints. Would you say you are getting back to your roots?
It is really important to me to integrate some part of Turkish culture into my collections, especially the tradition of Turkish hand craftsmanship. Actually, this was my approach since the beginning: In my first collection I used traditional Turkish tulip motifs but never showcased it anywhere other than Istanbul. This ethnic touch and appreciation for tradition matures with every collection I create and materializes in a variety of unexpected ways.
What is your favorite color palette? Which fashion period inspires you the most? Who are your major influences in fashion?
I love being colorful but my favorite color is ivory. 1970’s inspire me the most in terms of style. My major influence is my life: the exhibitions I have visited, the people I have met, the music I’ve listened to. I also get a lot of direction from vintage clothing, especially from the designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Gianfranco Ferre, Gianni Versace, Christobal Balenciaga: the designers who shaped the fashion of today.
With a collection behind, you are probably thinking about the next season. What’s pinned to your mood board right now?
That’s a surprise!