Interview with Ebru Yeni, brand clothier.
With a keen eye for what makes a brand get noticed, Ebru creates fun. Her designs pack a punch and are exciting to behold. An encounter with someone wearing one of her pieces is sure to leave an impression.

Istanbul Street Style: I remember visiting your studio last summer and was impressed with what I saw, especially the flamenco-inspired dresses that you did for Canario. I see a lot of talent here. Did you have any formal training?
Ebru Yeni: I graduated from ITU with a degree in Engineering, yet I always had a passion for illustration. I decided to follow that direction and enrolled at Mimar Sinan University. There I focused on drawing and Textile Design. I really applied myself to learning the basics of garment construction, materials, quality and design, and brand marketing. My sketches also improved...
ISS: Another thing I was impressed with was your incredible portfolio of design sketches and fashion plates.
EY: Drawing is really an obsession for me. Throughout the day, I am always making sketches and drawing from life. Even while talking on the telephone, I'll be creating caricatures or doodling. I like drawing figures.
ISS: It's like a form of meditation.
EY: Yeah, and can be the starting point for many great ideas.
ISS: So after college, where did you go? How did you begin your career in design?
EY: First of all, I worked for an English company doing research for them on fashion and textiles in Turkey, and then I worked for Bil's White Shirt concept project team for a short time. After that, I began to work as a freelance designer like I've always wanted, first doing some accessories for Miller which were planned to be sold on their website. They liked the results, so they requested some custom outfits to use for their event hostesses.

Since they were working in nightclubs after dark, I used materials that were enhanced by club lighting and reflective accessories. It was a success, so they asked me to consult on design for other brands in their stable, such as Beck's, Efes Pilsen, Efes Light.

It didn't take too much time and my name became known by a lot of brands. Bacardi was also one of my early clients. Actually, they held an international competition and my designs were selected as the "best practicing costume."
ISS: When did you set up the atelier on Galatasaray Turnacıbaşı Street, your first professional studio?
EY: At first, I had no need for an atelier as I was working out of my home just doing conceptual drawings and samples. But as the business began to grow, I really felt that I needed a space to create, as well as control more of the development process - from concept to manufacturing, and also for quality assurance.
ISS: I can see the logic in that. How long have you been there?
EY: It's been four years now and have since worked for many well-established brands. To name a few: Nokia, Ericsson...
ISS: Efe Rakı.
EY: ...Efes Pilsen, Turkcell, Nescafe and Nestle's other brands, Toyota, Vestel, Filiz and other Turkish brands... Arçelik. The list goes on.
ISS: That's a healthy client portfolio. Doing this type of marketing-level designer wear is actually a great opportunity for getting your work a lot of public exposure.
EY: I feel lucky. Sometimes up to maybe 300 people could be wearing my designs at certain trade events and nightclubs across the world at any given time. I recently attended an auto show where I saw about 30 people there sporting my ensembles.
ISS: And I remember when I attended the Istanbul Food & Beverage Fair last summer, I saw your designs on about 20 girls for Sari Zeybek and and Çilingir. You have a lot of talent and with that I can see some common elements that tend to prevail in your work. Bold colors and fabrics, clean lines, sharp angles and curves and contrasts...
EY: The designs must attract people, because that is the ultimate goal of the brand. The look should set up an interaction between the wearer of the garment and the potential brand consumer, yet should not be over-emphasized. Unlike haute couture, the design should not upstage or over-power the branding. It is a delicate balance to create unique and engaging outfits that are attention-grabbing, yet not eclipse the brand. In this scenario it is all about advertising.
ISS: True, at the same time you do seem to lend an identity to your designs themselves. Have you thought of branching out, of possibly launching your own collection? Free of the restrictions of corporate branding guidelines...
EY: Actually I do currently design for a local manufacturer, although their designs aren't at all the type of deigns I would carry in my own line. All this keeps me very busy, so I guess that I just haven't had the time to devote to that idea. I suppose that I am just waiting until the time is right, when I am ready.
ISS: Good answer. Well, you are definitely there in terms of owning your own style, strong branding skills, garment quality... and your atelier is all set up.
EY: If I opened up a boutique, I would want to really put my heart into it - and my time. For a project like that to be successful, one should be able to devote as much time as possible to it, and really establish a connection with the customer.
ISS: Do you ever do custom designs for individuals?
EY: Yes, occasionally.
ISS: Have any of your designs been covered in the media?
EY: Radikal and Referans have both done feature stories on my work.
ISS: Tell me a bit about the development process. Where do you begin with a client?
EY: During the first phase, we discuss their desires and look at their logo and color palette, determine what environment will be the setting for the clothes and target market, and study their consumer profile. We spend time optimizing the design, and of course, working within a budget and generally very tight time-frames. Then it goes to sketches and client presentation, selecting fabrics, application of the logo and prototype manufacture. After approval, we begin production of the line.
ISS: What elements make a successful piece?
EY: Definitely aesthetics. Line placement is very important, pattern and cut, using fabrics that stand out. These attributes tend to excite the observer - and the client.
ISS: How about inspirations or influences? What other names in the industry interest you as a designer?
EY: Because my clients cater to a very broad range of demographics, it can vary quite a bit. Overall, I would say labels like Miss Sixty. Most of the brands tend to go for looks that are sporty and fun, especially with the cell phone companies. Alternately if I am designing for a more classic feel, I can cite Armani and Gucci for inspiration. For example, when designing for Remy Martin we went with a more groomed, sophisticated look.

Personally, I like Comme de Garcons, Watanabe, Issey Miyake, Hussein Chalayan...
ISS: The more I become familiar with his work, the more I find it intriguing. I feel that he is one of the most influential artist/designers of our day. I also like J.P. Gaultier and Alexander McQueen, forward thinkers like him.

So the big question for you is: what's next?
EY: Travelling. Doing my own collection, and going international with it. And gaining inspiration from the larger world.
ISS: Well, we're all waiting! (laughs)
EY: And you know what? I have been considering doing illustrations, like venturing into the art world a bit. Perhaps applying illustrations to my designs.
ISS: Which of your designs have been favorites of yours?
EY: I would have to think about that, there has been so many. Probably the best answer would be the next design!
Interview by D. Alexander
January 7, 2007
Contact: ISS