Kiğılı is one of Turkey’s most successful names in menswear. The brand’s first store was established in Istanbul in 1969; today Kiğılı can be found in over 250 stores and selling points throughout Turkey and across the world. Who better, then, to discuss the dynamic business of men’s fashion than CEO Hilal Suerdem?
Suerdem joined Kiğılı in 1993, working for his father-in-law Abdullah Kiğılı. Although he had studied business administration, he started at the bottom, working his way up from the warehouse to the retail department to management, and it is this wide experience that makes him such an effective CEO: he knows the business from top to bottom.
Throughout his career at Kiğılı, Suerdem has seen great changes; not least the rapid development of digital elements. ‘We were a fast-growing company already, but I was always looking for something new to add to our business,’ he says. ‘I knew it should be about technology and the information age. After extensive research we decided that we needed to apply the newest technology in our logistics and put our efforts into creating an online store. Being a part of this stage of the business development has taught me a lot. I developed myself and worked even harder for the brand to grow.’
Its position in its home nation cemented, Kiğılı is now able to concentrate on growth outside Turkey, with a focus on Central Asia. ‘We have stores in countries such as China, Iran, Iraq, Macedonia and negotiate on franchising ventures in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon and many more,’ says Suerdem. This is not to say that plans at home have slowed, he explains; they have simply taken a new road: ‘We have a three-year investment plan for Turkey. Our aim is to open in areas where there aren’t any shopping malls. To continue attracting new customers we will focus on product differentiation.’
Kiğılı’s image has become younger and more competitive over the past few years; the brand’s strong social media presence has brought it closer to a younger audience. The Kiğılı man is aged 25 upwards, self-confident, smart and successful, says Suerdem: ‘Our innovative and refined designs complete his personal style. Our customer values a maximum sense of freedom of movement, while always being well-dressed. This motivates us to be creative and always on the lookout for new innovations in textiles.’
Today, when fewer men prefer to wear a suit all the time, luxury sportswear and smart-casual styles have come to the fore; Kiğılı’s designers are aware of these changes, which are reflected in their collections. ‘We have changed a lot at Kiğılı in the past six years,’ recalls Suerdem. ‘It’s been a complete makeover for the brand. More and more items are being shaped with a slim fit to give a more defined look.’ The brand’s underlying philosophy has never altered, however, he points out: ‘From the first Kiğılı collection in 1969 onwards, one thing is unchanged: our motivation has always been quality.’
For a more tailored look, the Abdullah Kiğılı Exclusive Cut range, named after the company’s founder, was established in 2006 and has its own stores. The brand’s immaculate designs, crafted in organic fabrics produced in limited quantities in Italy, cater to the gentleman seeking a striking, luxurious outfit. Abdullah Kiğılı Exclusive Cut designs can be made to measure and the stores also offer a tailoring service that allows customers to make their own ideas and designs a reality.
As well as its broad variety of men’s fashions, Kiğılı is known for its great customer service, as Suerdem is keen to stress. ‘Our staff get a detailed training at Akademi Kiğılı. Customer satisfaction, communication, personal development, sales and product knowledge are subjects that are part of the training. We refer to our staff as our service team rather than our sales team.’
Quality and service
Substantial growth in customers from outside Turkey has led Kiğılı to develop a free express tailoring service, available in the larger Kiğılı stores in shopping malls and areas with high visitor footfall. Garments can be altered in-store within a day, allowing a personalised service even on a flying visit: another example of the focus on quality and service that is key to Kiğılı’s success.
Kiğılı’s attention to its clients’ needs is deservedly reflected in strong brand loyalty. ‘Every season, our customers get really excited about what our next designs will be,’ says Suerdem. ‘Our modern designs, combined with high-quality fabrics, sold in our widespread stores, are our strength. I believe our brand has paved the way for many Turkish menswear brands, which has contributed to our country’s economy. This is something we are truly proud of.’