We live in an age in which we talk a lot about “being a brand” in addition to how much social media, stuck in the fight between the existential struggle of brands and individual branding, fills our lives. Most of us are victims but some are lucky to properly use the opportunities while others just complain about being exposed to it. As being a brand raises many questions in a lot of people’s minds, we regard ourselves lucky to be able to talk about this with Ece Sükan and Metin Gürsoy, the primary addressees of the issue. We focus on the story of transformation with a focus on luxury. In a time when everything is transparent, the possibility of pretense vanishes and authenticity wins. How? Keep on reading and you’ll see what I mean.
How would you define luxury?
Ece Sükan: In broadest terms, luxury is to find a balance in one’s life and to make it work. This includes everything – work, career, family, personal quality time, health, travel, interests, friends, personal life, and social responsibilities. I think today, the biggest luxury one can have is to maintain a sustainable life with a holistic approach. “The new futurists are the environmentalists.” We’re living in an age of transparency, and individuals and brands no longer have the chance to pretend. Everything is apparent and visible to everyone. Nothing exists if it’s not holistic and planned out with a 360-degree communication structure.
Metin Gürsoy: In simplest terms, you can say that luxury is everything done or bought to satisfy one’s tastes and especially visual appetite that is not necessary for survival.
How do you think the perception of luxury is changing nowadays?
Metin Gürsoy: Until Pierre Cardin made the “haute couture” style of clothing public, luxury was everything exclusive. Until fast fashion brands like Zara and H&M copied the trends of luxury brands and made it public, luxury brands dominated seasonal trends. Now, we see the discussion of a concept like accessible luxury thanks to social media and the Internet. But nothing accessible is luxury. It’s a misconception. Now everyone who has the experience or not says that luxury products or services are more like an experience rather than purchase. It’s not about the experience. Is this summer camp? Luxury is becoming a product or a service that is exclusive to you and owned only by you on the planet.
Ece Sükan: With the arrival of the digital revolution, everything became accessible and abundant, but this also creates a counter-revolution. As the boundary between reality and virtual is blurred, we collectively return to the essence, become pure, and are aware of our responsibilities for the world. It’s a period of confrontations that includes individuals, brands, countries, everyone. It’s quite interesting to observe this period of transition.
Ceket, Etek / Jacket, Skirt: THE STORY OF Çorap / Tight: CALZEDONIA Gözlük / Sun Glasses: ANDY WOLF / SHOPIGO Ayakkabı / Shoes: DIOR / BEYMEN
Although we hear a lot about “being a brand,” it’s clear that everyone attaches a different meaning to it. What do you think it means to be a brand?
Metin Gürsoy: People tend to use it in a wrong way. It’s wrong to say that a celebrity has become a brand. What they mean is “S/he’s famous now and s/he’d be successful if s/he were to launch a product or a service.” People cannot become brands. They can learn to act like successful or sexy brands, they can invest in themselves and can become brands only after they decide to launch a product or a service. But again, it’d be their products or services that become a brand, not those people.
Ece Sükan: I define being a brand as owning a set of vision, principles, values, goals, definitive qualities, authenticity and integrity; and the ability to activate and relay this through the proper means of communication.
Do you have a brand you’re passionate about?
Ece Sükan: I cannot name anything as a product but New York is a brand city I’m passionately attached to. For me, it represents freedom, dreams and self-actualization.
Metin Gürsoy: Apple! I believe that Steve Jobs will be discussed in the future as frequently as the kings and queens in the history of humanity. He made an innovation that offered fun and entertainment to people of all ages in a time when boredom was high, expectations were higher than usual, satisfaction was low, and loyalty was almost non-existent. He proved that everything could be more stylish.
Korse Bluz / Corset Blounse: ACLER / V2K Pantolon / Panta: VALENTINO / BEYMEN Çorap / Tight: WOLFORD / NİŞANTAŞI Ayakkabı / Shoes: BALENCIAGA / BEYMEN
What do you think about the term “influencer?”
Metin Gürsoy: People who were labeled as opinion leader, presented high-value works or were approved by their approach to life have become influencers with the social media. It’s not a new concept. These active people have always been in our lives. Now it has a name. You cannot set off to become an influencer.
Ece Sükan: Brought along by social media, one of the most important platforms of today, this concept is experimentally experience by everyone in the last decade. The consumers, who used to have a passive spot, now have the power to have their opinions heard and the power to choose. And this required brands to engage in a dialogue rather than dictate things to them. This forced them to collaborate with influential people to create the necessary effect. It’s a reality of our time and yes, it’s quite effective when used right. But, as in everything else, it all comes down to the question of “quality or quantity” after you reach a certain point of satisfaction. Luxury brands or mass brands are trying to carve themselves a place in this process through experiment and failure. Now, social media attaches importance to micro-targeting and the sense of credibility. When people don’t see the real link between influencers and brands, i.e., through mainstream advertisements, we cannot really talk about an interaction. For instance, when this concept was introduced to our lives, the conflict between editors and bloggers in fashion weeks was the first reaction to this new period. In time, a sense of zeitgeist aroused. Social media has contributed greatly to the democratization and inclusiveness of fashion but, as usual, there is also another side of the medallion.
Elbise / Dress: JACQUEMUS / BEYMEN Gözlük / Sun Glasses: ANDY WOLF / SHOPIGO Çorap / Tight: WOLFORD / NİŞANTAŞI Ayakkabı / Shoes: BALENCIGA / BEYMEN Smokin / Tuxedor: TAJI Gözlük / Glasses: ANDY WOLF / SHOPIGO Gömlek / Shirt: VAKKO COUTURE
Do you think the emergence of a culture of trend imposing distinguishes or destroys authenticity?
Ece Sükan: Authenticity always stands out; being authentic means being universal. It’s the most effective and realistic way of communication. Everyone has a story. Today, the most valuable content is created when these stories are told.
”Authenticity always stands out; being authentic means being universal.”
How do you manage to stay authentic?
Ece Sükan: It’s with integrity and being in constant connection with your inner voice. Of course, everything as a price. I don’t actually like that word but I mean it in the broadest sense. There can be ups and downs, questions and disconnections throughout a journey. But at the end, one’s biggest responsibility to himself/herself is to stay authentic.
Gömlek / Shirt: ATTICO / BEYMEN Pantolon / Pants: SUDI ETUZ Smokin / Tuxedo: TOM FORD
What would you suggest to infant initiatives on the journey to create a brand?
Metin Gürsoy: Find an expert you trust and who has an approach you are comfortable with, make an investment and be patient!
Individual branding is also in the foreground of modern society. As being an influencer becomes a profession, what would you suggest to people who plan to be a part of this process?
Metin Gürsoy: You cannot set off to become an influencer. Whatever you’re doing or planning to do, try to do it in the most desirable and responsible way. Successful and highlyregarded brands create coherent works with a sense of continuity. Learn to be patient no matter what you’re doing.
Which recent brand and influencer collaboration made you say “This is it!”?
Metin Gürsoy: Zayn Malik had a special Instagram story for one day with his girlfriend Gigi Hadid as part of the Versace Versus project. The target audience, the synergy between the celebrities and the brand’s DNA… Everything was a success.
Ece Sükan: I can talk a bit about the other side of the medallion here. There are layers of being an influencer. The real thing is the content and the target audience. We should not think about the concept of influence solely as a tool of digital marketing; it also has a power to create and shape a perception in social and cultural events. Recent social media hashtags and campaigns such as #metoo, #marchforourlives, #oscarstoowhite have been very influential for instance.
Elbise / Dress: LES BENJAMINS Mayo / Swim Suit: ERES
Which brands do you think has compromised on its values in order to be “younger?”
Metin Gürsoy: Gucci. But it’s thriving now. It’s just that we’ll see how long it can keep up this colorful collection and approach which aim the new generation. I have always followed it because it’s a favorite of mine.
So, how did you meet?
Metin Gürsoy: Ece is an old friend of mine. She’s always been tasteful and always done great things, and I’d follow her closely. Our paths crossed after I started working as a brand consultant and Ece started to invest in herself in the international fashion scene. When I hosted her during one of my Fashion Brand Management classes at Vakko Esmod Fashion Academy, I saw how knowledgeable she was in terms of fashion and branding, and we decided to make our presentation titled “Be a Brand.” First, we presented it to the employees and executives of Vakko. It received a positive reaction and now, we continue to organize seminars that focus on branding, creating a personal brand and motivation. We’re mostly invited by big companies to motivate their mid- and senior-level executives and to show what branding is.
What’s next for you?
Metin Gürsoy: We’ll continue to organize “Be a Brand” seminars with Ece. There’s also a certificate program for Fashion Brand Management at Vakko Esmod. I also carry out amazing PR and Marketing activities for Hermes. I will also be managing the presentation and social media account for this year’s annual Istanbul International Fashion Conference by Turkish Clothing Manufacturers’ Association. It’s like being a state official. We need to show international investors and big brands that Turkey is not just a big and strong manufacturer but is also taking steps to create a brand.
Ece Sükan: In addition to our brand consultancy projects, I’ve recently completed the style supervision of the digital TV series “Yaşamayanlar,” the first vampire story in Turkey for which we’ve been working for 4-5 months. I’m also publishing a book about the workshops and seminars for PUIG Luxury House, a famous luxury brand in Paris, last year. I’m also collaborating with brands and continuing other projects. I can soon return to acting for a film or a TV series. I’m as multidimensional as ever! (Laughs)
Elbise / Dress: LES BENJAMINS Mayo / Swim Suit: ERES
A false fact about fashion?
Metin Gürsoy: That fashion is what suits you best.
Ece Sükan: We see a slip of meaning for fashion and style. Fashion is an industry, and style is how you react to it. What defines your style is your authentic choices. It doesn’t mean that you have a style just because you follow fashion.
Is there a movement that is a trend now but is a no-no for you?
Metin Gürsoy: Baggy and comfortable men pants.
Ece Sükan: I never say never because combining the most unlikely pieces is a part of my creative force. (laughs)
You latest discovery on social media?
Metin Gürsoy: It’s not recent but I appreciate how the new generation uses social media. Berkcan Güven and Orkun Işıtmak are my recent favorites.
Ece Sükan: I’ve been following them for a very long time but @ diet-prada and @stressedstylist are very spot-on accounts. I’ve recently started following an account titled @magazine_fan. It’s the Instagram account of a magazine collector like myself who digitizes fashion photographs in print magazines.
An iconic piece in your wardrobe?
Ece Sükan: It’s very hard for me to answer this question as a collector of vintage pieces because I collect iconic pieces! I’m busy updating the brand “Ece Sükan Vintage” to “Ece Sükan Archive.” I’m preparing a small depot in Topağacı. To mention a few pieces: a leather blazer from Gianni Versace’s famous pinned collection in the ‘80s, a ‘90s lace bodycon dress by Alaia, a metallic dress by Paco Rabanne, a pair of power suits by Thierry Mugler, Bob Mackie, Yves Saint Laurent…
Metin Gürsoy: I have a Moschino coat. I bought it for no reason but it’s become iconic.