There is a reason why the phrase “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’ ‘ became a cliché; any duo who is capable of brushing their egos to the side, realizing that they are both on the same team, working for the same goals, not only take one, but two steps at a time. Halim and Feride are an amazing example of this solidarity. The siblings who positioned their PR company L’Appart right in the middle of the fashion industry, are the reasons why we have certain brands in our dressing rooms. How, you ask?
There is a fashion world that is gradually growing and developing in Istanbul that we’re facing. L’Appart stands at a focal point where everyone who wants to be known in this business as a designer has to go through; PR. How did you start this business?
Feride: I first worked at the World Bank, then on European Union projects, and later in the trading department of the automotive industry. After all my experiences, I made a radical decision to establish my own business.
I started my fashion journey after deciding that I wanted to be in a business where I’m happy, and where I actually have an input, which is when I opened an A46 store in Paris with Selim and Tuvana Demir. I then became in charge of the international marketing and sales of the brand Tuvanam, exposing myself to the experience of the growth process of a brand. We became L’Appart Paris’ client when they took on our store’s advertising and communications in Paris. When I decided to go back to Istanbul, realizing the gap in showrooms and Fashion PR, I made an offer to the office in Paris to create L’Appart PR Istanbul. Which is how our journey began.
Halim: I actually joined the L’Appart family in September 2012. However, saying that I got involved 8 years ago when Feride set up the first business plan wouldn’t be an exaggeration. I outsourced a lot of events including the opening party in February 2008, and always tried to contribute voluntarily during the Fashion Weeks.
What kind of specifications do you need to have in order to be a successful PR agency?
Feride: The biggest secret of a PR agency is having a good team, because it’s not a job that can be done individually, it’s a field where teamwork is crucial. Specifications of a good team off the top of my head are curiosity, eagerness to learn, creativity, being easy going, cheerful, endurance for long work hours and being sociable.
For some reason, PR is considered to be “manageable,” although it is a job that requires time, creativity, skill and a lot of communication. Can you tell us about the cons of having a PR service for brands?
Halim: Especially in the last decade, PR even surpassed the point of just being “manageable.” I can hear you say “We already know that.” In the ultimate user/consumer world and in our personal lives, this arrived to such a point of a designing/defining processes: almost every three years, a new period ends in digital era and another begins. We’ve come to a point where the founder and owner of Facebook gives subtle political messages to the presidential candidate of the Republican Party (Donald Trump) in the United States. Therefore PR is life, and life is PR.
“A second voice and view is very beneficial for progress, being a duo is a huge advantage when you have doubts and are indecisive.”
In your opinion, where and what where the biggest changes in the fashion world in Istanbul?
Feride: I think there have been a lot of positive developments in Istanbul’s fashion scene during the last decade. As the number of shopping malls increased and e-commerce began, attention for fashion and design slowly started growing as well. Along with this growth, designers started to gain recognition with events held by Fashion Designer’s Association (such as Galata Moda). On the other hand, Istanbul Fashion Week, which takes place twice a year, began to influence both our country and international arena. TV series also have had a major contribution to fashion. Thanks to product placement consumers are introduced to a lot of brands and designers through shows, which are then sold in the Middle Eastern market. At the same time, the number of schools for fashion designers increased and there is more attention paid to this industry.
Halim: Istanbul has reached a critical point where the population is making peace with the city’s 8500 year long history, geography, and blessings. And of course when the population makes peace with the past, the fashion industry is taking advantage of this wonderful process. Especially looking at the recent past after Gezi movements, if we examine the fashion and style magazines like BasedIstanbul producing unique content, we can understand (the answer to) how fast Istanbul changes in the fashion market.
What do you pay attention to when choosing the brands you represent?
Feride: I guess there is not only one answer to this question because we have to evaluate several points as we make these choices, for example we try not to take brands that might be in conflict with one another, or if we are maxed out with our brands, we prefer to wait a little rather than start the collaboration process. Other than that, we consider whether we have the same vision with the brand owners. And we always evaluate our possible clients the whole team; we all have to adopt, be passionate about and get excited for a new brand so that we can do a good job representing them.
Halim: We are a very lucky agency as we have the ability to choose within international and local brands/designers. If we find the universal vision and criteria that we believe in in our customer, choices can be made very quickly. Our teams collective excitement and acknowledgment of the brand also is a great factor in our decisions.
Can you talk about how working as a duo benefits you?
Feride: A second voice and view is very beneficial for progress, to be a duo is an advantage when you have doubts and don’t know which way to go. Especially when it is someone you fully trust, life becomes easier.
Halim: It takes two flints to make a fire… For us, this creates an effect of completing one another and expanding together. The emotional satisfaction of having common targets and running towards them together is absolutely more important than the financial gain. Additionally, there are positive benefits of being able to exchange views without prejudice, and defending what you believe in to your sibling without her taking it personally.
Halim’s/Feride’s … characteristic makes us so much more successful?
Feride: Although Halim hasn’t worked in this sector before, he has contributed with his business background and vision to our growth and professional service since the first day he started. I guess he was born as a good PR person, his strength is in human relations, which is one of the most important parts of our job. Besides that, he pushed the business forward on company and income management.
Halim: In addition to her elegance and vision, Feride is open to learning, she is target oriented, and she is passionately committed to her work.
What do you think about the future of fashion in Istanbul?
Feride: Fashion is growing with baby steps, and it has a long way to go. However it excites me and makes me hopeful because as Turks, we have the tendency to learn very quickly. I am sure that in the next decade, we will hear more about successful brands and designers in the international arena.
Halim: With its creative and dynamic identity, Istanbul will reach greater points not only in fashion but also in other disciplines.
Your team is so delightful. Can you tell us a little bit about your work environment?
Feride: Due to my experiences in several different office environments, there has always been an idea in my mind about a setting which I am trying to establish at L’Appart now. One of my priorities is to work in a joyful setting because your office is one of the biggest parts of your life. It is also important that you do the job you love and work well with your team. Our work environment is open to sharing, ideas and innovations. I do my best to listen and to apply the suggestions of all the people I work with. We all show respect to one other and everybody takes responsibility of the job fully, so I can say that we work in harmony.
Halim: We have a team who work off of sharing as oppose to hierarchy, who ask ‘’what do you think’’ rather than say “I know how.”
What tip would you give to fashion designers who want to make a name for themselves?
Feride: I would say be ready to work a lot… One needs to be patient and persistent. Making a name for yourself takes a long time, but it’s a pleasant journey, so one needs to be conscious of this process and take the lead.
Halim: To start the journey with a business plan, and to work a lot, read, research, travel and then working even more. I would tell them to believe in themselves, and to be persistent even when the doors close in their faces.
You’ve taken upon the task of doing PR for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Istanbul for the past couple of seasons. What kind of feedback do you get about it?
Feride: It is very important to us to continue emerging events in a steady manner. Fashion Week is going strong in that sense and adds value each season to the event. We see that we are reaching more people and getting more attention each season which also reflects in the works of the designers. There is an increase of purchases from buyers and the sponsors get great feedback as each event is completed. Of course it’s a long journey, but I do believe that it will endure being more successful as it continues to evolve with each season.
Halim: Just like any other international event, the feedback we get for Fashion Week varies. It is, after all, a new event that has been happening only for 5-6 years. Regardless, the growth is extremely exciting. Similar to Cinema Festival, Jazz Festival, Biennale, and Contemporary Istanbul, we think that Fashion Week changes the dynamics of the city. Istanbul Fashion Week is now mentioned within the creative fashion scene along with Seoul, Stockholm, Toronto and Berlin, other than the main weeks like Milano, Paris, New York and London in the online and offline press. It’s obvious why this is the case due to the worldwide success of brands like Maid in Love and Les Benjamins.
What has been the most memorable moment from all the Fashion Week organizations you’ve been a part of?
Feride: It’s a hard question for me because each Fashion Week has a different vibe. I can say that I am always affected by the profound emotional rush the designers go through after they present their collection.
Halim: There is an incredible moment in Istanbul when the sun rises that reflects a characteristic side of the city. In my heart, there are moments like these that create a similar effect in all the various places that we’ve done the organization at such as Taşkışla, Kuruçeşme and Karaköy Antrepo.
Fotoğraf / Photography: Tabitha Karp