There is something about Zeynep Tosun that we can’t put our finger on; whether it’s her contagious laughter, unexplainable charm or positive energy, women are drawn to her clothes like a moth to a flame. Along with this je ne sais qoi, of course is the fact that when women put her designs on, they transform from every day gals to belles of the ball.

When we compare the ready-to-wear market to couture in Turkey, we see that couture is more successful. Why is that?

As a whole nation, we like to look flashy at all times, women invest more money in pieces that resemble couture. We prefer wearing chic pieces rather than comfortable clothes even during day time, hence we are more prone to ‘couture’.

There are many people who want to establish a brand and the conditions of the fashion industry vary from one country to the other. What are the cons and pros in Turkey?

Many people I come across in Turkey say “I’ll just establish a business, and be my own boss.” But I think it’s also important to make that business profitable along with establishing it. It’s worth establishing a brand if there is good profit, breaking even won’t even do. Currently Turkey is not so pleasant for any sector of course, however if you want to export, there is definitely an advantage.

There is not much of a sense of solidarity among our designers. Abroad, positivity towards one another’s business is much more palpable. Why aren’t we able to form that locally?

Yes, unfortunatelly, Turkish people aren’t too keen on helping one another out, this prevails for the general public too. The reason is low self-esteem. But I think, as new generation designers we support each other a lot. You can’t get along with everyone but I have close friends from this circle and our interactions are always positive.

Compared to other Turkish brands, Zeynep Tosun is the one that always re-invents itself with each collection. Although all your pieces always carry the magical Zeynep Tosun charm, they look very different from one another each season. How does your inspirational process change through periods?

I evolve quite frequently and I don’t always follow the same path. When you look at my inspirational process, you can definitely understand the change in my character. First I find a story or an object or an event, and continue from there. I can be inspired from anything around me; a woman walking in the street, a film, a book, a painting, a pair of shoes, the Bosphorus, a smell; it can be anything. The most important thing is the sense these things give me and how far I can push it.

Many people I come across in Turkey say ‘I’ll just establish a business, and be my own boss.’ But I think it’s also important to make that business profitable along wth just establishing it.

What would be the kind of information that would have made your life a lot easier had you known in when you were starting out?

Merchandising, definitely.

Where you live inevitably influences the collections you design. What is the most common “part” of Istanbul in Zeynep Tosun collections?

Let’s not limit it with Istanbul. As you can see from my latest collection, there are the textures of our country, its culture, our lifestyle and values. To be able to transform these ideas and values into wearable pieces is very exciting.

When hobbies become your job, sometimes we unavoidably want to get away from them. What do you do to get away from work, to have fun?

I try to discover new places and travel as much as I can, because there is nothing more inspirational for me than travelling, seeing new places, meeting new people, eating new dishes and exploring new music.

Considering your last three collections, the Zeynep Tosun woman transformed from a romantic yet assertive one in Autum 2015 to a happy woman who likes more laid-back, flowing pieces in Spring 2016, and ended up being someone who likes cultural symbols and references in Autumn 2016. How much of you can we find in these phases?

I am already an ethnic type, for years I had a lot of knowledge on the subject, and now as I find myself trying to do special things, I decided to reflect this knowledge to my collections. My collections reflect our own culture, and we’ve all grown up with similar upbringings so I have a lot of common cultural references as any other person does. The metal embroidery patterns and the meanings of these patterns I used in my Autumn-Winter 2016/2017 collection especially are one of the most important symbols in our culture.

One more thing, for goodness sake, where does your care for detail, your skill to toughen up feminine pieces, your talent in designing clothes that all women want and your touch of creating glamorous pieces that one feels comfortable in come from?

I grew up under my mother, my aunt and my grandmother’s influence. My aunt’s costumes, the time I spent at my mother’s office (she is also a very good stylist), my grandmother’s chests, her old clothing… For example, I used to watch my mother get dressed for a night out, observing what she would wear and what accessories she would put on. When you experience this from a young age, it jars every bone in your body.

Zeynep Tosun with numbers…

Thousands of emails a day.
You won’t believe it.. hundreds of messages a day.
Unfortunately 2-3 hours for herself in a week.
10 skecthes per one couture dress in a day.
10-12 people I would call real friends.
3 sessions to check Instagram daily
Wake up time: 8 o’clock.

Photography: Fora Norman