In the bustling heart of Istanbul, the Istanbul Fashion Connection (IFCO) once again opened its doors to the world, offering a glimpse into Türkiye’s vibrant and resilient apparel market. With 600 exhibitors under one roof, the event showcased the country’s rich fashion heritage and its unwavering determination to navigate challenges and stride confidently towards the future.

Setting the tone for the IFCO opening ceremony, Mustafa Pasahan, vice president of the Istanbul Apparel Exporters’ Association (IHKIB), framed the gathering as an “ecosystem under one roof.”

In a poignant moment, Pasahan also paid tribute to the resilience of Türkiye on the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake, rallying attendees to stand in “solidarity” and “devotion” to continue to sustain the Türkiye market.

His words resonated with the interconnectedness of the industry, emphasising Türkiye’s role as a central hub of civilisation.

Between January and December 2023, Turkish apparel exports fell 9.2% to $19.3bn according to IHKIB data, with much of the turbulence linked to currency fluctuations and specifically, the devaluation of the Turkish Lira during the year. By June the Turkish Lira weakened by around 20% against the dollar since the start of 2023.

Reflecting on the trials of the past year, Pasahan reiterated Türkiye’s commitment to progress, affirming, “We are continuing to work, and we are devoted to doing so.” His address pivoted towards the imperative of creating added value in the apparel market, aligning with the principles of the Green Deal for a sustainable future.

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Echoing Pasahan’s optimism, Mustafa Gültepe, president of the Turkish Exporters Assembly, envisioned a year of double-digit growth, buoyed by heightened global interest in Türkiye apparel.

Gültepe’s projections, including an anticipated $40bn in apparel exports, aligned with Türkiye’s ambition of meeting the objectives of the Green Deal to which he added: “We need to produce more textiles that align with the Green Deal, we need to implement them more to make sure we achieve our targets.”

Whilst acknowledging the challenges posed by the earthquake, Gültepe celebrated “record-breaking” numbers and unveiled plans for a forthcoming buyer group exhibition.

Davut Gül, governor of Istanbul, added his voice to the chorus, addressing the “competitive currency exchange rates” and combating cheap labour practices that undermine the apparel sector. Like his counterparts, Gül highlighted the potential benefits of embracing sustainable practices for long-term growth.

Rounding up the discourse, Ömer Bolat, minister of commerce, outlined Türkiye’s strategic priorities in the apparel market, emphasising the necessity of producing high-quality, value-added products amidst geopolitical shifts.

Bolat celebrated Türkiye’s impressive growth rate and envisioned ambitious targets for the years ahead, underlining the expansion of relationships with exporters.

Last week (5 February), Türkiye-based e-commerce platform Trendyol, which is backed by China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba made plans to launch in what it described as “Ukraine’s fast-developing online market” and hoped to benefit from the country’s appetite for Turkish products.