What drew you to become a fashion designer?
Since my childhood, I have been interested in making clothes. First,I made clothes for my “Barbies” - then I started to design clothes for myself. I was begging mom to sew my dream piece. Now, I understand that making clothes, creating something, is a means of expression to me. Fashion Design is a way of showing my inner self to the whole World.
Why was it important to you to offer a sustainable, responsible, Eco fashion line and how do you incorporate ideals such a Zero Waste into your work?
I believe that from now on, to respect the Earth is not a choice, it is a necessity. We human beings are not separate or superior from the nature. We are the daughters and sons of Mother Earth. We must re-connect with her.
In my opinion, our body is the first and the most important element as we connect to the Earth firstly through our bodies. Our foods, our clothes, our homes where we save our bodies carry a lot of meaning too. For this reason, REN produces minimal, comfortable and timeless clothes using artisanal, sustainable and responsible methods. I have a dream of spreading slow fashion philosophy with three main motivations: freedom to be yourself, an awareness of our environment and a solidarity with others.
In order to be fully integrated in my environment, in addition to practicing responsible methods and using Eco-friendly materials, I make an huge effort to minimize our brand's production waste. I start by thinking about design process. I try my best to create zero-waste patterns. We also recycle/reuse our fabric waste for another projects.
Where do your find inspiration for new work?
Both nature and women inspire me. I am fascinated by the absolute balance of the earth. Everything is living in a perfect harmony. Life’s effortless flow is very inspirational. In addition, all the great women I have met, read and listened to have had an enormous impact on me. When I need guidance about life or doing my work, I always read great female authors again and again. Ursula Le Guin, Clarissa Estes, Simone De Beavouir, Virgina Woolf are a few of them. They each give inspire me.
What materials do you work with – organic, reclaimed, etc.?
I upcycle the dead stock, as well as reclaimed or waste fabric; and I work with fabrics that have a natural origin like cotton, linen and tencel. Also, I am very curious about finding local and traditional fabrics from Turkey. I believe in the connective power of artisanship and hand-crafted materials.
What are the biggest challenges you face as an sustainable designer?
My biggest challenge is the cost of natural and quality materials. Because of my brand’s production scale, I have difficulties finding the fabric which I most want. On the other hand, I experience some dilemmas with the marketing of my designs. As you know, the most sustainable act is actually “buying nothing.” In that context, I am trying to sell my garments in a conscious way. Conscious marketing is a very important topic to me.
How do you help customers understand the higher cost of sustainable garments when they are so inundated with sweat shop-produced cheap merchandise?
Some research shows that the new generationof customers tend to pay more money for Eco-friendly products which also offer a social benefit.In that light, I think that the most significant motive is clarity and transparency. I am trying to be transparent about how the price of each of my garments is determined and what elements are included in the total cost.
What can we look forward to seeing on the runway at Eco Fashion Week Australia 2018?
I will be showing my recently launched new collection called Yaşam, which means “life” in Turkish. This collection was inspired by “the dream of creating a different life in the earth.” We asked ourselves, what if we each of us - all humanity - have a different purpose in living? What if we realize that we are not superior from the nature, but we are an entirely integrated part of it? What if we need nothing but what nature gave us to live? I will show eight pieces inspired from the rawest version of life.
In this collection, I used reclaimed linen, cotton and tencel fabrics from local manufacturers. Some fabrics are traditional and hand-woven. All pieces of this collection were designed in-house, sewn by a local craftsman and packaged in our little studio.
How do you incorporate sustainable living in other areas of your life?
I have dedicated to myself incorporating #zerowaste and #zeroplastic in my daily life. I challenge myself all the time to keeping doing better in these two areas.
Anything else you would like readers to know?
My very first collection is inspired from Ursula Le Guin. Ursula said, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end.” I love being on the road. I dream of arriving nowhere in this business. I want to sustain making clothes matters.