He was a real pioneer who held the first online modest fashion week and then together with Think Fashion Co managed impressive events - Modanisa Modest Fashion Weeks in Istanbul, London and Dubai. Today we want to introduce you to co- founders of such a revolutionary phenomenon as Modest Fashion Weeks - Franka Soeria and Ozlem Sahin. They are sharing with us how the Modest Fashion Week was brought to the international level in such a short time.
Özlem Şahin represents herself as a serial global fashion entrepreneur. She is the co-founder of Think Fashion - one stop solution for modest fashion industry, Modest Fashion Weeks ( Istanbul-London-Dubai ) and founder of Monostilo.com e-commerce start up.
Özlem, was the coordinator the first online hijab show in the world, 2013 which reaches 300k online audiences.
With the knowledge of the start ups, her Industrial Engineering bachelor degree in Turkey and her master in Leadership Program in Italy she is supporting so many global brands as an A-Z strategic brand consultant and looking for "What is Next in Modest Fashion Industry".
She has a fashion film called ''Red Coincidence'' which was shoot by Elle Turkey.
You named your company Think Fashion What meaning did you put to it?
We want people to think about fashion as industry, business. Fashion is not only about great clothes and a glamour side of it. Fashion is a business and there are lots of “the unseen behind the scene work” from production, marketing to promotion. There are lots of strategy and works behind all of these.
Think Fashion is positioning itself as the Think Tank of Modest Fashion that means we are the brain who thinks about all behind the scene work of Modest Fashion. We always think: «What’s Next and how we can solve the existing challenges within the industry».
O.S. Think Fashion company vision always creates a solution and connects dots of the global modest fashion industry. To manage it we have to ''dream big'' and ''think fashion'' in a different way and focus on how we can achive our goals.
Also fashion is a life style. The pieces you choose directly reflects something from you, your thoughts, your emotions. Think fashion is not just about focusing on the trending ones, it is about also changing the way of thinking, deciding, choosing from a small shopping experince to a big industry movement. Looking always for a new and unique one.
Pls tell us some words about your company and team.
F.S We are handling everything from Production, Marketing to Events of Modest Fashion. Our team consists of hardworking people who like to think out of the box. We like to listen and solve.
О.Ш. Our company assets being an international and creating global projects for the industry. I'm Turkish, my partner Franka is Indonesian and we have very different collegues from India to UK and others we cooperate with.
We love challenges that is why we are able to do at least 2 global events in very different regions in 1 year.
I should also add we really able to understand the global modest fashion industry from A-Z.
For 2018, one of our big projects are creating more online / offline platform for designers and matching them with buyers.
MFWs - are no doubt interesting and successful projects, a concept that sets a new direction in the fashion industry. What was the most difficult in organizing each of the past weeks? What was the main challenge?
We are quite happy with the outcome with Modest Fashion Week. Every country has its own challenges because they have their own local approaches. Mostly what we think is about how to make this modest fashion week be effective both in local and global scale also both in modest and mainstream community/media/talents. We try to be as inclusive as we can; we also like to empower new business and platforms.
The concept of Modest Fashion that we bring is Modest Fashion as a Choice, a Lifestyle. We embrace everybody who does modest fashion- from whatever background or religion. Some countries views Modest Fashion heavily, for us, it is all about the style. Modest fashion not always means hijabs. In our events designers, brands can show collections with hijab on or not- as long as the collection is modest (not showing skin, not transparent or too tight fitting). We need to explain this to everywhere we go to so that they can catch the idea and accept us as the way we are.
We are trying to feature great talents of Modest Fashion which can attract audience, visitors both on the catwalk and at the booth. We need to explain that a catwalk is more like a show. That means designers or brands need put more efforts so it will be both wearable and amazing to watch. On the other hand-a booth is totally a different space where all the products presented- should be wearable. Not all designers understand this concept so we need to curate and assist them well.
Quite a lot of people come asking for sponsorship. we are one of the rare companies which think less about profit and embrace the idea of supporting others. However there are clear facts that organizing a big event like a Modest Fashion Week, needs a lot of money. To be honest until now, we are running things by ourselves and we have no investor backing us up. We always do our best to support everybody but we understand that we do have limitations as well.
I can say the main challenges in making the events in different regions and changing the cities. It is really not easy to choose right local partner, to understand the dynamics of this region markets, finding the right industry experts, media partners... etc. We can say it is really risky but as i mentioned we love challenges.
As all fashion weeks, the buyers are one of the key. Since we really care our participants and try to bring so many buyers all around the world. The modest fashion focused buyers are really limited and generally local that is why we focus on creating smart projects on that topic.
Which of the events, to your opinion, was more successful and what are the criteria for assessing the success of the event?
We can say all our events have been successful:
Istanbul Modest Fashion Week is Success to be the groundbreaker event that created buzz globally both in news and in social media. Literally it’s the pioneer event of Modest Fashion Week
London Modest Fashion Week is a successful platform to reach communities in the Europe and has brought good B2C event.
Dubai Modest Fashion Week is the biggest modest fashion week which has the best setup and support from many people. There are a lot of people from all levels attending DMFW including royal families and celebrities. We are also proud with the lineup designers that we had in the event- they are amazing.
The 3 events have a very unique style but global approach. As an organizer, we always aim to add more value to the events and try to improve ourself. For example 2018 Modest Fashion Weeks will be at least 4 days and we will add many strategies for designers and brands. It is important to get participants and sponsors feedbacks to understand the success and we are happy that all 3 events got amazing feedbacks were.
In Dubai Modest Fashion Week, we reached almost 500 million media reach that shows the ''Modest Fashion Week'' (it’s a registered trade mark) has already become a Brand itself globally in a very shot period of time. Under this brand, cities change, but the brand identity, quality and value will be the same standard. So beware of fakes))))
Today, when the leading fashion houses include modest models in their collections, do you plan to integrate with the world fashion shows or also continue to build a detached week for mfw?
Modest Fashion Week is all about authenticity. Yes now everybody is trying to do Modest Fashion- which is good, but again the question is: “ what about how about the modest designers?”
To join mainstream fashion week, designers and brands need pay lots of fee and not everybody has that kind of budget. With Modest Fashion Week, they can show their collection by an affordable fee and also have an opportunity to become a global name.
Also Modest Fashion Week is not only about designs but also about showcasing modest talents. We do have amazing talents in photography, videography, media and creative entrepreneurs. Modest Fashion Week give them a platform to shine…
We really do care about our designers and brands. That is why we are like a big global family and that is why they are ready to come and participate in different countries events. They trust us and we give a chance to them to become global designers and brands. The Modest Fashion Weeks are not just making a fashion show or having a booth. We do communicate with them all year and try to create always business oppourtunities and support them. That is why our focus is real modest fashion talents. Modest Fashion is one of the biggest rapidly industry and if we don't highlight the real talents with a strong, prestigious platform like our Modest Fashion Weeks, the big brands will own it.
How does the Muslim fashion to your point of view affects the market in the whole and what are the trends?
I think now everybody started to accept the reality that Yes there are women who like to dress modestly- despite whatever background or religion. We show them that dressing modestly is also fashionable and there is a need for this. We can say now Modest Fashion is a big trend globally- but then again is it really can be more than just a buzz? This is what Think Fashion is trying to solve next.
Which countries and cities are most favorable and opportune for holding a mfw and why?
The cities with has big market of modest fashion and has all the supporting elements of modest fashion.
There are so many potential cities in very different regions. Our target is to do Modest Fashion Week events in 5 continent. In the Middle East, Europe, South East Asia, America, Australia... they already have their own modest fashion market and happy to take global Modest Fashion Week concept.
What are the conditions for conducting mfw?
We bring people to where the market is. Modest fashion has its own capital, we cannot follow what the mainstream fashion week does, because the market area is simply different.
That country also has to be a hub of the industry in the region. Support from government and local communities is also very important.
Yes, there should be market. The participants also should want to be a part of this market and this event. Government support, local media and associations supports are also other key elements for us.
How do you select brands and designers for participation in mfws . Do emerging designers have any chances to get to the podium? What are the conditions for participation?
We do ask them to submit their collections and we will review them. We do help some emerging designers either giving them special discount or connect them with our sponsors. For us, quality is important… but again, we can’t sponsor everybody and we know that our shows are pretty much affordable.
Yes we have also available slots for emerging designers and brands. It doesn't matter it is an emerging or a well established brand, there are some necessities that we would like to see in the brand. Sometimes an emerging designers can have fresh, greater vision.
How designer brand itself better in the global modest fashion scene
As you know the brand of modesty Araida from Russia applied to Emerging Designer’s Award, won, became one of 3 finalists among more than 200 candidates from all over the world and took part at DMFW
You hold every new modest fashion week in a different country. What does it give to international designers? Can they compete to local brands in this case?
By making Modest Fashion Week as a travelling event, we enable brands and designers to grow as a global brand. We create a big networking event everytime we go, we touch the media/buyers/associations/famous figures which is beneficial for everybody.
We also collaborate with platforms that can help our designers and brands to expand in those countries. Sometimes we help to match them to do collaboration with locals.
There are always opportunity to market the products because people have different taste, and it maybe international brands that we brought.
While we are choosing the modest fashion cities, we are asking designers and we are checking the markets for sure. For example, the brands which interest in GCC market, they mostly prefer to come Dubai Modest Fashion Week. If they interested in South East Asia market, they prefer to come to Jakarta Modest Fashion Week. You think like that right? It is true but generally the designers and brands would like to join all the events because they already understood that each Modest Fashion Week has a unique style.
For the local designers and brands perspective, it is also really good to meet global modest fashion players. Think about very different styles all around the world, influencers, media, buyers... coming to your city and country.
What are the features or peculiarities of organizing modest fashion shows, are there any differences in comparison with the mainstream ones?
Its Almost the same thing, we just reach the communities more and we do have regulations in terms of showcasing the products on the runway; it has to be modest by all means first of all. And no after-parties like the mainstream does, for sure.
The standards are the same. As Modest Fashion Weeks, our assets are being international and supporting designers and brands always. When we compare to mainstream events, we are generally more international and business focused.
What do you think is most important in your work?
Creating solution and value to the industry. Become a great medium for people to achieve their goals. Modest Fashion Week is now a global brand and it was started with a dream. Now many people follow our path, we stay true on giving the best and be authentic modest fashion event that everybody proud of.
Working in an ethical way, this is the key for us. We also always believe to create long term relationships. It is really important to understand our partners, clients, brands and think the best solutions for them.
What is the next destination? What are new mfws going to surprise us with?
It will be Jakarta - the city of creativity and innovations of modest fashion. There are many surprises to be awaited. Jakarta Modest Fashion Week is organized by Think Fashion and Markamarie Creative. Together with Markamarie, we will help the participating designers to expand in Southeast Asia after event. So the event effect lasts longer than the event itself and will create bigger value for everybody.