T-shirts illustrate Istanbul

T-shirts illustrate Istanbul

Melis Alphan ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
T-shirts illustrate Istanbul

In his designs, Selçuk Demirel lets a cat figure take center stage amongst other elements, like fish or the Galata Tower, which also hold an important place in the city’s identity.

In an effort to share the magic and wonder of the city it had been founded in with the masses, Istanbul-based jean brand Mavi launched a special Istanbul t-shirt collection in 2004, becoming the first clothing brand to design a t-shirt exclusively for the city. The seemingly small and simple idea filled an important void in Istanbul’s fashion world. By launching the campaign years before Istanbul would be named the “2010 European Capital of Culture” Mavi not only contributed to the city’s promotional marketing but became the first clothing brand to support the city in its bid for the European Capital of Culture title. Over time, Mavi’s Istanbul t-shirts have become a company, and city, trademark.

The success of the Istanbul t-shirt series is evident in its ever-growing legion of fans—people who eagerly await the latest design, ‘collectors’ who creatively incorporate each new design into their wardrobe, people who saw the t-shirts as the best gift for loved ones, tourists who saw the designs as the perfect souvenir to take back home. Artists from many different disciplines have jumped at the chance to illustrate what they love about Istanbul through graphics and drawings which get turned into designs for the collection.

Through their designs these artists have reflected what it is like to live in Istanbul, what it means to make Istanbul a part of yourself; ultimately what it is like to be an Istanbulite. Over the years designs have included a silhouette of the iconic Istanbul skyline as well as classic symbols of the city such as “simit for seagulls,” “horse mackerel,” “the trolley car,” “the Maiden’s Tower” and “Galata Tower.”

A giant collection of 98 designs

T-shirts illustrate Istanbul

With the continued addition of new designs the Mavi Istanbul t-shirt collection grew into a giant collection featuring 98 different designs by 44 different artists, all worn by millions of people in Istanbul, in Turkey and abroad.

In 2010 the Mavi Istanbul t-shirt collection took Istanbul to Paris where they represented Turkey in the “From Byzantium to Istanbul: One Port for Two Continents” exhibition held at the Grand Palais. During the exhibition, held as part of the “Turkish Season in France” events, Istanbul t-shirts were demonstrated to be among the most important gifts of the city.

By setting up Mavi Istanbul t-shirt design workshops at events like Design Week, the Rock’n Coke music festival and Akbank Jazz Festival, Mavi allowed amateur designers and collection fans to translate the Istanbul of their dreams into t-shirt designs and experience the excitement of sharing their vision with others. Regular festival or fair-goers were transformed into designers and artists through the workshops. In fact, a couple of designs were even chosen to be mass produced as part of the collection.

New releases in the Istanbul t-shirt collection are always eagerly anticipated as the brand transcends most regular t-shirts thanks to the artistic touches and clever designs evoked. The latest member of the collection will bear the signature of famed illustrative artist Selçuk Demirel. These t-shirts will reflect the Paris-based artist’s signature impeccable lines and perspective of Istanbul. In his 39-year career as an artist Demirel’s works have been printed in leading Turkish and international newspapers and magazines.

In his design Demirel lets a cat figure take center stage amongst other elements, like fish or the Galata Tower, which also hold an important place in the city’s identity. Demirel’s Istanbul t-shirt designs can be picked up in Mavi stores now.