You are one of the well-known doyen fashion designers in Turkey. Could you tell us about the fashion designer and businessman Faruk Saraç, his brand, and the process coming to these days by taking into consideration our readers abroad since our magazine is especially featured in international fairs and events?
In 1981, I started to operate as “Butik Faruk’’ on the lower floor of the Opera Onur Bazaar in Kadıköy. In 1987, I had the chance to position my brand as Faruk Saraç. The number of my stores increased to 4. In 1991, I started Haute Couture in Nişantaşı. Now, I was able to come up with my own production and started to offer high stitches to our customers. I always dreamed of having a detached showroom with a small garden. Soon after, I opened my showroom with a garden view in Levent in 1997. We’re still serving at our headquarters in Levent. Up until now, I’ve actualized almost 200 fashion shows. Yet, what matters to me is that I don’t want to call them fashion shows, because they were historical performances to me. In 1998, my goal was to carry the elegance of Sarı Zeybek, that was called as 29 yellow zeybek by Atatürk, to the podiums. Undoubtedly, I always believed that Atatürk was the most stylishly dressed leader of his time.
That is why my aim was concentrated to show this elegance to the younger generations. This show 30 was hosted by the Dolmabahçe Auction Hall, and I once again had to project the same performance in Anıtkabir (again a first in its history). Among the 700 pieces to be exhibited in the Hagia Irene of Topkapi Palace in 1999, I exhibited 36 sultans and 6 sultana and 1 prince clothes. The name of the show was the ‘’attire of the sultan’’. My starting point was miniatures and portraits. After this achievement, the constabulary asked me to perform a fashion show for their 161st anniversary. So, I revealed its trace. Tracing back to the 1241’s river heads, I carried my collection to the podiums with 550 pieces, composed of Tanzimât, Constitutional, and Republican costumes, with scripts and music on it. The costumes of this show that was exhibited at Çırağan Palace are now exhibited in the “police museum’’ that I established in Ankara. In the 25th year of my professional life, I decided to reveal the universe. I introduced the 365-piece collection in the garden of the archaeological museum with the help of 99 models, carrying the moon, sun, planets, stars, horoscopes and talismanic shirts on the podium. I have respected people who have been engaged in art and craft in all my life. Two years ago, the name of the show, which was held in the grand bazaar, one of the plane trees of 555-year-old Istanbul, based on the clothes of the craftsmen and artisans, ranging from zythum seller to sherbet seller, from sandal seller to quilt maker, from Sedefqar to carpet seller and porter, was ‘’ grand bazaar in the past’’.. Projects are in progress.
Just as our lives continue, we will come up with a completely different concept by the next year and there will be fashion in it.
You have a statement that you design by taking inspiration from the contrasts of life. Can you elaborate on this statement a little bit? How do you carry out your design process?
I have a thesis I’ve always claimed. Life consists of anti-thesis. It is like day and night, black and white, male and female, plus and minus. Life always has its contrasts. The world and remainders and other creatures we’ve never seen which with they will come to our world from outside. I’m with those who favor this idea. This year, there was only black and white in my winter collection. I used the moon as a theme.
You have your signature on the clothes of many people and institutions, especially from politics, businessman and sports community. How do you manage to design clothes for people from many different professions and communities? (Can you name a few you designed for?
I’m very meticulous in my work and pretty detailed. If you want to make a person prefers you, then you have to be different from the remainders. You can think of it in any form, and you have to produce what is best indeed.
I don’t call them customers. They’re the friends of my brand. If a person comes only from Jamaica, Russia, Switzerland, Dubai, Qatar, it means that you have a specialty. Those who don’t spend time for a successful life pay the price of failures for a lifetime. I like to treat what I do from a doctor-patient perspective. First, I take into account the human anatomy and then I dress them. I characterize my own customers by simply making them different. Style is the only word with no plural form.
You are a person who has the principle of sharing knowledge and experiences and being beneficial to society. Can you give us information about your schools? Has the current functioning of educational institutions been a project as you have imagined? Are you also going to teach?
I have a lot of corporate work. To give a few examples, I designed the new uniforms for the employees of TCDD, Ministry of Forestry, Ministry of Health, THY, UNKE, AFAD, IETT, the constabulary, and the gendarmerie. In my 38 years of professional life, I achieved phenomenal success many times. Among my first achievements, I founded Turkey’s first design vocational schools in Bursa 10 years ago. My goal when founding the school was to share my knowledge with young people and prepare them for the future. I think experience is the biggest capital. But unfortunately, I regret to say that I have no more excitement. Our school is affiliated to YÖK (council of higher education). They have their own rules. There are loads of intensive procedures. For example, I cannot make my 40-year-old master teach as an instructor. This is not allowed by the system of the YÖK. Apparently, a newly graduated teacher who is chosen by them is obliged to attend courses. I want to train semi-skilled workers. The intermediate staff is currently the missing element in Turkey. This is surely my opinion. With this in mind, millions of young people are unemployed at the moment. They only have diplomas. They’re going through severe psychological problems. Because of these conditions, I just wanted to stop training and currently focused on teaching.
Overstepping the borders of the country was a long time ago for Faruk Saraç Brand and you are also exporting to many countries as a businessman. Which countries do you operate in? Can you also shed light on the total number of your stores worldwide?
I closed six stores of mine four years ago. The reason I shut it down was that there was a pleasant street retailing in the past. It’s over and now mall merchandising started. If you have a store in a mall, you will have to move your brand to each newly opened malls. Now, the craze; internet retailing has started. Consumers are now shopping online. I think this is partially wrong in some areas. For example, no shoes must be bought without feeling the leather of the shoe, observing its form, and trying it out. The new current is surely internet retailing. It is on the rise. Soon, the Mall will be replaced by either schools or hospitals, and internet stores will be the game-changer in the industry. Among my friends, there are people with 100 – 200 stores. Store rents in the malls are quite astronomical. It is very difficult to survive your brands under these conditions. That’s why I don’t want to grow outward. This is because the first sector affected by an economic crisis in any country is the textile sector. Currently, we have both ready-made clothing and sewing at our center in Levent. I export a little product abroad.
Would you like to tell us about the bond between your designs and the fabrics you use? Can you evaluate the Turkish textile and ready-to-wear clothing, both as a designer and as a business person within the sector?
Turkish textile is absolutely in very good conditions compared to the past. We just need to find new markets and increase our market share more and more. We currently have markets in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Our vital brands are all over the world and I am very proud of them. They are trying to maintain the competitiveness of their brands against European brands in the market with a joint effort. Finally, I’ve been keeping up my brand for 38 years. What pleases me the most in this life is that I have a son and a daughter. My daughter Cemile entered into home textile and created her own brand “Mazone’’. She will be making her first export to a palace in the Middle East. My son Orhun Faruk is busy making the casual 31 collection of Faruk Saraç and presenting his designs to a young audience. I’m very proud of both of my kids. Life has taught me one thing: “life is as much as we exist with our loved ones”.