Derimod was founded in 1975 by Ümit and Zerrin Zaim, a brother and sister from a family that has worked with leather for three generations. The name they chose, formed from the Turkish word for leather and the Turkish spelling of the French word ‘mode’, reflects their goal of combining leather and fashion. Capitalising on his German-language education, Ümit Zaim established Derimod as an export-oriented apparel brand, which later branched out into retail. Since its founding 36 years ago, the company has been a pioneer in the industry.
When Derimod launched its first store abroad, in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles in 1982, it was the first Turkish leather company to open overseas under its own brand name. Derimod is also proud to have been the first in the Turkish leather industry to carry out its own advertising and to organise fashion shoots abroad; as a result the company has worked with many world-famous models, including Linda Evangelista and Milla Jovovich.
The brand’s philosophy is based on unconditional customer satisfaction and happiness. The company adapts its collections and products to consumers’ lifestyles and expectations, giving customers the opportunity to express themselves freely. By continuously updating its collections and creating products that reflect the nobility and elegance of leather, Derimod has expanded to 62 stores in Turkey alone.
Derimod’s vice president Sedef Orman explains how such a long-established company has been able to keep its brand positioning: ‘With our wide range of leather jackets, coats, shoes and bags, Derimod appeals to a large target audience,’ she says. ‘Moreover, we give equal weight to women’s and men’s products. From shoes to jackets and coats, our designs attract a broad age spectrum, starting with high school and university students. We are always building our brand as a symbol of quality and elegance.’
Derimod’s jackets and coats are each hand-dyed using special techniques; the most prevalent colours, camel and brown tones, are customers’ perennial must-haves, while the black leather jacket is such a classic in its own right that it features in every season’s collection. In the last several years, with the influence of trends from abroad, stone and mink-coloured pieces have also become among the brand’s top sellers. Orman notes that Derimod consumers closely follow each season’s fashions and that the current worldwide popularity of leather jackets with fur collars has led to high sales for Derimod of such items.
Over the years, the shopping habits of loyal customers have helped bring Derimod to the place it is today, says Orman. ‘Whether it comes from our consumers or from the dictates of our era, we have always been open to change. In our designs and our attention to customer satisfaction, our clients’ expectations and their changing lifestyles have also guided us; in fact, there have been times when we have created special products in response to customer demand. Now, however, we are focusing on how to anticipate customers’ demands and go beyond their expectations.’ It can be said that the creators of the brand’s youth-oriented ‘Mood by Derimod’ line are young people themselves. The collection is inspired by the lifestyles, attitudes and interests of young people and has succeeded because it has captured the prevailing mood among the young.
Behind these positive results lies the hard work of Derimod’s research and development team, and its designers. Led by Orman, Derimod’s design team travels to the world’s most influential fashion cities, while sourcing teams located around the globe also help the brand to follow developments within the fashion industry.
The company is also adapting itself to the changing dynamics of shopping habits in Turkey, according to Orman. ‘Social media is part of a fast and unstoppable current of change. Instead of resisting change, we must keep up with it,’ she says. ‘In the coming period, after the infrastructure of our website is completed, Derimod consumers will have the luxury of shopping for our products online.’ Orman explains that in 2012 Derimod will also focus on branding and opening new stores abroad – starting with Macedonia, Russia, Iran and Iraq – as part of its push to become a significant regional brand.