Independent designers in Istanbul – keeping strong in challenging times
Istanbul has been enjoying the fame of a glorious shopping city since time immemorial. Jewellery, leather, gold, spices, fabrics and clothes have been attracting shopping enthusiasts from all over the world for decades and centuries. No matter how well travelled you are, the vivid sights and sounds of the Grand Bazaar and the Egyptian Bazaar will long stay with you, as their centuries long charm enchants everyone.
These days, however, stores are more quiet than usual. All across the city we are witnessing the negative effects of the latest events in the country. Shopkeepers are struggling to pay the rent, visitors are few and far between along the regular touristic routes, shops are emptier than usual, once loud art scene is too quiet for this art-hungry city, and Internet is bustling with articles about the once glorious Beyo?lu that is going through its toughest times.
But Istanbul is a city that fights and struggles through hardships, and once you scratch just a bit deeper, an inspiring world of creation is striving to be seen and recognised. This is what I saw last weekend at the Designer Bazaar, better known as Garden Sale event in Küçükçiftlik Park.
The two-day open-air bazaar that has been taking place for a few years now, gathered small designers from across the city who had the chance (not a cheap one though, it should be noted) to display their playful and eye-catching creations. Some more original than the others, many of them truly unique and noticeably made with love and attention, most of exhibited products were made by very young designers whose struggle to get recognised and survive in the times of cheap uniformity is admirable. Even at for-profit events like this one, this is a truly encouraging sight in the city that strives to keep its creative and innovative spirit alive.
In a few days, namely from 7-9 October, a free annual non-profit event called Open Studio Days will take place. Unlike last year when the event was concentrated around small designers, this year various visual artists will open the doors of their studios to show their art that is often difficult to be noticed.
This is a different kind of event from the Garden Sale, it is more oriented towards networking among independent artists, and therefore increasingly important in these days when creativity and art require more voice and exposure.
Whether it is a for-profit event, an artistic showcase, or a shopper’s little corner, Istanbul needs its creative forces to stay strong and loud. And us, its residents who love Istanbul in both its joyful and difficult days alike, will keep our affection for the city, and our strong faith in its splendour, that is waiting to be displayed in its full glory once again.