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Exclusive interview: Vakko’s CEO Jaklin Güner

With stores around Istanbul and an impressive range of labels, Vakko is a powerhouse of Turkish fashion. Tuba Gezer Arlı speaks to the company’s CEO Jaklin Güner

Tuba Gezer Arli portrait
Tuba Gezer Arlı ,

Over the last 80 years, Vakko has become synonymous in Istanbul with luxury, fashion and meticulous service. Regarded by some as Turkey’s first luxury brand, it was established by Vitali Hakko in 1934 and was initially a small hat shop. Hakko’s aim was to ‘produce the best, for customers who desire the best’ and the company aims to honour Hakko’s vision to this day. Vakko became the company’s official name four years later when the brand’s product range was extended to encompass printed fabrics and scarves.

Committed to customers
‘Offering exclusive and personalised services is probably our most distinctive feature,’ explains Vakko’s CEO Jaklin Güner. The company is understandably proud of its commitment to customer service: personal shoppers are available and shopping appointments can be booked at any time to suit the customer; style advice is given to all clients, and newly bought items can be altered. The company strives to provide last-minute appointments for those who need an outfit for an urgent meeting or trip.

Fifty years of flagships
In 1962 Vakko opened its flagship store in Beyoğlu, where a pioneering combination of luxury clothing and superior customer service made it stand out in the city. Vakko has continued to break new ground over the decades. It was, for example, the first Turkish brand to create a retail concept specifically aimed at younger shoppers, which it called Vakkorama. Its roll call of other enterprises is impressive: in addition to 34 Vakko boutiques, the company encompasses Wedding Vakko, Vakko Mare beachwear, Vakko Home, Vakko Chocolate, V2K designers, and the W Collection for men. It has also brought established labels from other countries to Turkey, such as Christofle (a French homeware and jewellery brand), bridal brand Pronovias and the French fashion label Hartford. It’s no wonder that the company has adopted the strapline ‘Fashion is Vakko’.

The most recently opened Vakko store is located at the Zorlu Center. The impressive space was designed by French architects Pierre Beucler and Jean Christophe Poggioli and has the feel of a chic independent concept store. The location and layout of the store make it perfect for Vakko’s special events, such as parties, fashion talks and exhibitions.

International favourite
With its excellent customer service, range of exciting brands and stunning stores, Vakko has a high number of loyal customers from Turkey and from other parts of the globe, according to Güner, and this is helped by Turkey’s geographical position and Istanbul’s excellent shopping facilities. The company’s headquarters, the Vakko Fashion Centre in Nakkaştepe, has also attracted worldwide attention for its architecture, and it has won four international awards.

An eye on education
Education is important to Vakko, and it has created a partnership with the renowned French fashion college Esmod to help shape the future of the Turkish fashion industry. The Vakko Esmod Fashion Academy is based at Vakko’s headquarters and provides support to students in a number of ways, including access to successful people in the fashion industry. Guest speakers including designers Mary Katrantzou and Atıl Kutoğlu, and the editor-in-chief of Vogue Turkey Özge Sarıkadılar, have so far shared their experiences. ‘Vakko Esmod Fashion Academy gives students the opportunity to benefit from industry-oriented projects and to gain experience in the field,’ Güner explains.

This is clearly a business with its eye on the future, but which respects its long heritage. Vakko is keen to incorporate modern elements into its businesses. ‘We quickly adapt to the changing desires, habits and needs of our customers,’ says Güner, who highlights Vakko’s use of technology and digital media. ‘We want to stay as the first choice for luxury shopping, by keeping our inherited values alive and combining these with today’s technology in order to meet consumers’ changing needs.’

There is no doubt that the company is succeeding in its aims.



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