Thanks to its unique position as a pathway to Asia and to Europe, Istanbul has a wide range of aesthetic influences; from architecture to art, disparate styles have found a home here. The city has a vibrant pool of menswear designers, who are also taking inspiration from various sources.
One such name is Emre Erdemoğlu, an emerging fashion talent who creates pieces under his namesake label; he also presides over Tween, the Turkish brand which is known for its classic tailored pieces and minimalist, cool knits and jackets.
He is a man who likes being noticed: previous Emre Erdemoğlu collections have incorporated vivid mosaic patterns and Byzantine-style detailing on jackets and tops. He has also de-constructed traditional tailoring, with lapels re-worked as swamping shoulder shawls but his spring collection has a rather different feel. Inspired by the aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal, the collection includes khaki shirts, safari jackets and T-shirts with images of military leaders alongside denim shirts, plaid trousers and leather jackets. A khaki jacket might look fairly standard, but styled under Erdemoğlu’s eye with a bow-tie on the neckline, it ends up giving a nod to the 1930s. Erdemoğlu also has a women’s ready-to-wear collection and a couture line is due to be launched.
Hatice Gökçe brings traditional Turkish iconography into the 21st century. This spring sees collarless white shirts (a reference to Turkish army clothing) fastened not with buttons but with tiny metal swords. The sword motif is also printed over blazers and tops, in chalky tones. Previous collections have referenced the Young Turks movement of the 1900s and gothic style, with black feathers woven into jackets. Gökçe has been an important player in the Turkish fashion industry since making her debut in the late 1990s. She has gone on to be exhibited at the prestigious Bread & Butter fair in Berlin and to make costumes for Turkish theatre. Her dark spin on contemporary men’s apparel is bold and alternative – this is not polite knitwear and subdued suiting.
Something as plain-sounding as the International Woolmark Prize might not conjure visions of innovative design talent, but this fashion competition helped launch the careers of Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent in the 1950s. Last year, Turkish designer Niyazi Erdoğan was selected as a finalist for the prize for his bold and innovative menswear. The former student of architecture brings a rigorous and exacting eye to his menswear collections, which he began in 2008 and now exhibits at the prestigious Pitti Uomo trade event in Italy. His collections are inspired by street style and sports apparel. His playful and witty repertoire has featured graphic-printed vest tops and shirts, pop-bright shades and neat blazers worn with shorts and brogues. This season, he focuses on swimwear in the form of tiny trunks emblazoned in bright print (certainly not suitable if you’re shy), tropical prints and Breton stripes worn with crisp white suits and sandals – the epitome of French Riviera glamour. With a touch of the theatrical, this gentleman doesn’t take himself too seriously.
With this roster of sartorial talent, there are plenty of reasons to look to Turkish designers this season.