All Strong Women.
Interview by Ursula Lake
Photography by Selcuk Danyildiz.
Make Magazine chats to Zeynep Arcay the designer behind her eponymous label and finds out about the strong women that have created and inspired the brand.
Q. Tell us a little bit about your background, where you grew up and what you were interested in when you were a little girl?
A. I spent my childhood on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. My parents had my sister and me thirteen years after they married and this made us really important to them, we have been a very close family. I have felt their love during my whole life. Even as a little girl I was very ambitious and curious and I also loved painting.
Q. You founded your brand in 2013 having worked before in a very different industry, can you tell us about what prompted that huge change in your life and how you went about starting your own brand?
A. I worked as a top executive in the technology industry for many years. When I lost my Mother very suddenly, I realised that there might be no tomorrow and I felt it was exactly the right time for me to pursue my lifelong dream of creating my own fashion brand. I found the strength to make this huge change in my life from my mother and have always felt her support even when she was not with me any more.
Q. You didn’t go through the more traditional route to start a fashion brand. How did you learn your craft?
A. It was definitely more of an organic development. I have always been in love with leather, especially leather trousers which are my obsession. When I began there were very few brands doing leather trousers and none of their styles fitted the way I wanted. One of my friends introduced me to a very small leather atelier and I started working on designs with them despite the fact I was already working very hard in the technology sector. I started spending quite some time understanding the process of how they worked and created my very first design in that atelier, a pair of leather trousers – even before starting my own brand. This style has become one of the bestsellers among our designs.
Q. Your collection is very womanly and strongly feminine and sexy with a strong use of leather, what inspires you so much about leather?
A. Leather has always been my favourite fabric: I believe has the ability to make a woman look unique, stylish and strong. Even though I spent my childhood in a Mediterranean climate, I was just six years old when I convinced my Mother to buy me my first pair of leather trousers!
Q. Do you have a muse or a woman in mind that you design for? Is there someone you would love to see wearing your label?
A. All strong women who manage their own destinies are my muse. Of course, I have my fashion icons as well: Jacqueline De Ribes, Joan Didion and Jane Birkin are some of them.
Q. What are your favourite pieces in the collection? Do you have pieces that you always feature in the collection because they are part of the DNA of the brand?
A. Unsurprisingly, my personal favourites are the leather trousers! I especially love to combine them with leather and knit bodysuits. It gives the feeling of one piece but has the comfort of two. The leather mini dresses and blazers have become the statement pieces of our brand since the beginning.
Q. Fashion has a bad reputation for being very environmentally unsound. Is sustainability important to you? If so do you do to try to make sure that you are being ‘green’ as a brand?
A. Sustainability is the number one priority for us. We source leather only from tanneries certified by ‘Leather Working Group’, which develops and maintains a protocol that assesses the environmental compliance and promotes sustainable and appropriate business practices. We select leather that has minimum chemicals and a more natural finish. This season we have added hand printed silk fabrics which are dyed with 100% natural colours.
Q. Where do you get your inspiration for your collections? Do your collections have themes?
A. I travel and observe a lot. A new place I visit, a new song I hear, an object or even a single word can be the start of a collection…
Q. The theme of this issue is strength, what would you say are your personal strengths or what helps to make you strong?
A. I am bold and results orientated, I’m happy to leave my comfort zone. I know what I want from life and I go after it!
Q. You have achieved a lot with the brand in a short time, what are your future ambitions or dreams for the label?
A. From day one my dream was to create my own international fashion brand with a focus on impeccable fit, quality fabrics and handmade designs. I want to expand my brand all around the world and make it a real lifestyle brand for modern women.