SANSIM ADALI: “THANKS TO FTA, WE WILL STRUGGLE LESS TO MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD IN A EUROCENTRIC FASHION WORLD.”
1/ What pushed you to send in your submission to this year’s FTA Prize? What do you expect from this experience?
Since I started following FTA in 2018, I’ve found its mission to shine a light on the region’s finest emerging talents very inspiring, especially as it provides them with as much support as it does recognition. The initiative is so valuable especially because talents from the MENA region can often struggle to make their voices heard in a Eurocentric fashion world. These are all reasons why I was excited to send in my submission this year. Whether I win the prize or not, after participating in this experience I expect to expand my global network of peers, designers, editors, agencies, stores and more.
2/ What was the first object related to fashion (a piece of clothing, jewelry, an accessory…) that dazzled you when you were a kid, and why?
I can instantly say that it was this iconic Paco Rabanne dress that belonged to my grandmother. I’d never laid my eyes on anything like it before, it didn’t resemble any other dress I’d ever seen. Rather than fabric, it consisted of metal discs joined with metal rings. I remember as a kid that the moment I saw and touched the dress, I felt a sense of excitement that was completely new to me. When I take new and different approaches to my design process, I feel as if I’m more in my comfort zone. I believe there is something about me seeing a design so ahead of its time at that age that always pushed me to think outside of the box. I guess I can say I owe it to my grandmother, and of course, to Paco Rabanne.
3/ What was the trigger that made you realize that you wanted to be a fashion designer and nothing else?
I first decided to be a designer in my teenage years when I learned how to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. At the time Karl Lagerfeld, John Galliano, Hussein Chalayan and other groundbreaking designers didn’t just make clothes, but created worlds, showing their own minds and hearts through their designs. Shows with strong concepts and intentions were often much more memorable to me than singular designs. I decided to be a designer the moment I realized the power it holds as a medium to tell a story and create your own world. Through my shows, I want the audience to experience not only great design, but also a new reality that’s the product of my mind and heart.
4/ Which fashion designer, Arab or international, inspired you, and why?
There are so many talented international designers I’m inspired by, but due to my Arab roots, I do feel a special connection to the culture. Ever since I was a kid I’ve had the urge to research and explore different cultures, including my own. The many common points between my Turkish upbringing and Arab culture, including approaches to forms of art such as architecture, paintings, miniatures, mosaics, pottery, glasswork and carpet weaving make me feel more connected to Arab designers. I distinctly remember how impressed I was when I heard Elie Saab speak at a conference about his journey in creating his brand. Unfortunately, living on precious land often comes with a chaotic lifestyle, but I’m happy that, like Elie Saab, that sense of chaos pushes me to chase and fulfill my dreams.
5/ What is the one thing you wish people would stop wearing?
Imagine a world in which no one wears anything that isn’t sustainably made. Would that not revolutionize fashion as we know it? Even though this surely sounds like a dream now, I do think it will become a necessity in the near future. I think humanity and its systems have developed enough to produce alternative solutions to such problems.
6/ What was your worst fashion faux-pas?
I think for a small brand like ours, social media is a great tool to avoid a major faux-pas. When big, popular brands involve themselves in such situations, we get to quickly learn from their behavior as well as the reaction they get from the public. As these topics are discussed publicly online, it becomes more and more clear what we have to be extra careful about. I don’t remember a specific faux-pas from my past, but I’m sure if it were to happen I could learn from it and see it in a positive light.
7/ If you were to choose one of your looks, or that of any other designer, to wear every day for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?
If I’m never going to take it off, I’d want the look to be as functional as possible, just as much as I’d want it to be exciting in its design. Iris Van Herpen, who I believe is a genius of the possible future, successfully combines the two ideas, so I’d love to be wearing one of her designs. I can’t see myself wanting to wear anything else forever.
8/ Who do you dream of dressing?
Grimes and Björk.
9/ What does the word “sustainability” mean to you?
Sustainability for me is a living idea, an idea that needs to be incorporated into your everyday activities. Once you truly realize that the world needs your help, it is impossible to be indifferent. In my everyday life, the way I incorporate it is by consuming smart, caring a lot, feeling empathy and being able to look at life from many different perspectives. In my work, I try to bring together a non-toxic production cycle and long lasting and transformable garments, which allows our clients to wear our designs in many different ways year after year. As Sudietuz, we have been digitally transforming since 2018, we have been creating each design in 3D first, which allows us to see our collection before manufacturing it. Those 3D garments are available for purchase as NFTs. Therefore, whoever is buying our dresses can try them in AR and decide if they really need or want them.
10/ What is something that makes you uncomfortable in the MENA fashion industry and that you would like to see changed?
It’s clear to me that there is great interest in fashion in this region. This interest can unfortunately easily turn into overconsumption, which we all need to be careful about now more than ever. Therefore, I think the consumer needs to consume less, and consume more meaningfully. While doing so, they should also reconsider their everyday actions; we have reached a point where everyone needs to do their part by recycling and repurposing to minimize waste. Of course, on the brands’ and designers’ side, there are other elements to take into consideration. Do you pay your workers fairly? Do you keep track of every single phase of your production and are you aware of what goes on, what resources are used throughout? Do you make sure to use eco-friendly, upcycled, long-lasting materials? In this day and age, designers must do their absolute best to work towards being able to answer each of these questions with a confident “yes”.