Businessman slams Turkish Airlines preferring Italian designer for new uniforms

Hikmet Tanrıverdi, the head of Istanbul Textile and Apparel Exporters Union, on Wednesday slammed Turkish Airlines for working with Italian designer Ettore Bilotta for its cabin crews’ new uniforms.

Turkish Airlines on Wednesday unveiled its new uniforms, which will be effective following the opening of İstanbul’s new airport on Oct. 29. 

The new uniforms reflect many classic elements of Turkish design, culture and the design was inspired by the currents in İstanbul’s Bosphorus Strait, as well as the dynamic energy of the city where the East meets the West, Turkey’s flag carrier said in its press statement.

The uniforms of Turkish Airlines staff have always been a controversial issue in the country, as Turkish stewardesses have publicly been entrusted the task of representing the image of modern Turkey, since the establishment of the company.

After the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, debates on Turkish Airlines uniforms have been intensified in relation to social polarisation in Turkey over the secularist-Islamist divide. 

This time the design of new uniforms have again been carefully examined by those on social media. However, the carrier’s choice to work with a foreign designer has also been criticised as the Turkish government has vowed to focus on domestic production.

“While we choose to fly with Turkish airlines as our national carrier and as we have lots of designers, and more importantly we are assertive in design, I condemn that all preparations, including the filming, were outsourced to foreigners and invite all those responsible to give their resignation,” Tanrıverdi said on Twitter. 

Many approved Tanrıverdi’s criticism by replying to his post; however, some said that though Turkey was a leading country in textiles, it was falling behind other countries in design. Some others pointed out that Turkish textiles could not be recognised as domestic products, as they relied mostly on imported inputs. 

A twitter user recalled that the previous uniforms designed by a Turkish designer were a failure.

Turkish designer Dilek Hanif, whose 2013 uniform designs had created an uproar and was later cancelled by the Turkish Airlines, published a statement on Instagram.

“This decision ignores Turkey’s long-term policy for encouraging design and innovation by allocating an enormous amount of effort and financial aid, as well as export subsidies provided to designers, and exposes our self-created contradiction as a country,” Hanif said.

A Twitter user, who liked the new uniforms said that the job should be handed over to one who is competent, whether Turkish or French.

Turkey's prominent fashion designer Barbaros Sansal, who was expelled from Turkish-run northern Cyprus after a social media post, then attacked by a mob on arrival by a Turkish Airlines plane, stated that someone who has been in the fashion sector for 52 years, he has never heard the Italian designer until 2015 and it is a new brand getting into the sector. 

Sansal said he especially did not like the male costume, though the female version is okay.


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