The third annual Istanbul Fashion Connection took place between 8-11 February and boasted 588 exhibitors across a 100,000sqm space in Türkiye.
The show recorded 22,543 visitors across the four-day event from 134 countries, 45% of which were international customers.
Unfortunately, the timing of the event coincided with the tragic earthquakes that destroyed much of the infrastructure across 10 cities in Southern Türkiye and impacted some 13.5m people.
Despite major disruptions to flight schedules, more than 2,600 invited international VIP buyers were able to visit the fair on the first day.
The fair was characterised by lively business activity and international visitors included Ackermans (South Africa), Al Shaya (Kuwait), Apparel Group (UAE), Truworths (Kenya), Bodesa (Mexico), El Corte Ingles (Spain) and other countries.
Many of the Türkiye-based suppliers that spoke to Just Style at the event explained that they are finding increased traffic post-pandemic as a result of needing to boost speed-to-market, avoiding supply chain hiccups in sourcing from further away and also refreshing collections more frequently.
Speaking exclusively to Just Style, Ibrahim Sihhatli, an executive at Legit, a clothing supplier based in Istanbul, said: “It’s been our first experience at IFCO and it has been really good. We’ve been able to connect with many international customers and all are “serious” buyers. This will be really beneficial for our future.
“We’re finding lots of fashion buyers are now drawn to Türkiye because they need smaller quantities and need them faster. Particularly for Europe, that is where we are at an advantage over the Far East for manufacturing.”
The event featured a new high-quality designer area called The Core Istanbul with internationally renowned designers from Istanbul Fashion Week presenting their creative designs, including Arzu Kaprol, Aslı Filinta, Cerenocak, Çiğdem Akın, Ersozata, Essin Barış, Ezgi Karayel, TAGG, Giyi World, Lug Von Siga, Mehmet Emiroğlu, Meltem Özbek, Kuela, Murat Aytulun, By the Oak, Nej, Selen Akyüz, Selin Küçüksöz, SYHZ wear, Tuba Ergin, Y Plus, Muse for All.
Alphan Unal, general coordinator at Setre, a Turkish fashion brand with a 50-year presence, added Türkiye is becoming more important as a fashion producer and seller as awareness grows around the quality of its fabrics, manufacturing technique and use of digital production methods that harness greater efficiencies and sustainability.
“If you look at what we produce as Setre, it’s different to what is available mainstream on the High Street, and that appeals to consumers looking for something unique.”
In the IFCO Sourcing area, which was especially designed for production, trade visitors networked directly with international production companies such as Bozkurt, Bilce Tekstil, Gelişim, Karar, Cemsel, Bozpa, Demezoğlu and Zevigas.
Türkiye’s textile and clothing sector exported a total of US$31.2bn in 2022, accounting for 12.4% of its total exports. In addition, both sectors account for 17% of total industrial production and employ over 1.2m people. With a share of 6.7% of the total GDP, the total production of the textile and clothing industry in 2022 amounts to $79bn.
The Turkish clothing industry is the leading branch of industry in the manufacturing sector and the branch with the highest employment in the Turkish economy. With an export volume of over $21bn, the Turkish apparel industry is the sixth largest exporting country in the world. In the medium term, an export volume of $40bn is aimed for.
Türkiye is already the third largest supplier to the clothing market in the European Union. Other markets such as North and South America are also becoming more important. Exports to the US have increased by more than 60% over the past five years.
Türkiye complements its offer as an all-round supplier for the international fashion business with Texhibition Istanbul, which serves the entire range of fabrics, accessories and yarns as a supplement to IFCO. Texhibition will also be held at Istanbul Expo Center from 8 to 10 March 2023. The next IFCO is scheduled from 9 to 11 August 2023.
Just Style recently interviewed Mustafa Paşahan, the vice chairman of Türkiye’s apparel industry trade body IHKIB, who told us the country is aiming for US$40bn in garment exports in the medium term.
Last week International Apparel Federation (IAF) president and Turkish Clothing Manufacturers’ Association (TGSD) vice-chair, Cem Altan, revealed the significant impact of Türkiye’s recent earthquakes on the apparel industry and requested donations to help garment workers have a place to live and work once again.