Designer Sansim Adali transcends time and space by designing clothes that bridge together the Eastern and Western hemispheres, as well as the past and future, all the while drawing from her Turkish culture which she longs to share with the rest of the world, under a name close to her heart. Her label’s – Sudi Etuz – latest Spring/Summer 2022 collection exemplifies her vision through the use of a Turkish legend which sets the stage for the inventive, digitised fashion show that resembles a first-person video game, gorgeously integrating fashion design and technology.
Based in Istanbul (Turkey), Sansim Adali brings to the world her fashion ideology – dedication to haute couture and quality designs – through her magnum opus, Sudi Etuz. Sansim, how are you today?
Hello all, I'm feeling great, keeping up with the everyday hustle, loving what I do and loving to be with you in this interview; following and admiring your vision, visual taste and fascinating images and contents.
What does “Sudi Etuz” mean to you and how did this name come about?
Sudi Etuz is reflecting one hundred per cent of my roots and my heritage. Sudi is a surname that comes from my nomadic dad’s side and Etuz is the surname of my grandmother. As I’m really powered by my family’s energy, dedicating a brand to my roots is what I always wanted to create.
You studied Fashion Design at LaSalle Academy in Istanbul, from which you graduated in 2009. Before we get into that, could you tell us a bit about when and how you became engrossed in the world of fashion?
The fashion and design awareness and creative consciousness are what I get and saw from my grandmother actually. The outfits she comes up with, the way of styling and carrying the garments were and still are so fascinating to me.
LaSalle Academy gave me one of those disciplines in design which is fashion. Studying the essence of techniques means so much, but when you bring together those teachings in your work and outside of your comfort zone, then that is priceless. From then on I went to Antwerp to practise fashion design with multiple workshops, then attended so many seminars and summits in different countries. With all that now we can create garments, fashion, industrial design, technology, mobile applications and virtual humans.
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What inspired you most about your education at LaSalle which led you to launch your own label, Sudi Etuz, in 2016?
I spent so many years overseas in my teen and early adult years, collected so many memories and visual muses, and after those experiences, studying in my hometown and at LaSalle meant so much to me. As the university has a global vision combined with Turkey’s local presence, those two elements are so strong. And starting my own label after my education is what I wanted to do, by bringing local inspirations to a global setting.
Your work has permeated the makeup industry with your collaboration with cosmetic brand Bobbi Brown, and even the bottled water industry after your collaboration with water brand Erikli. What are some other collaborations you dream of?
As I always want to combine and bring together different disciplines, I love collaborating with different markets and brands to curate and create multiple different variations of a product or an image. Last week we launched our very first Meta Couture collection with DressX. Our digital garments can be purchased online. I really would love to collaborate with successful 3D designers for our virtual character Sui-D, who is a virtual astrologist supported by AI.
Let’s talk about your latest collection, Spring/Summer 2022. Firstly, the campaign photos are seamlessly gorgeous; inspired by the Turkish legend of Anavarza from Adana, the clothes and campaign set the scene for a modern-day fairy-tale. The photographer, Can Severs, captures these magnificent looks backgrounded by a skate-park, historical monuments, and a lake. How did the concept originate?
Since the last two seasons, we turned completely digital to keep up with the speed of the world. Now we are imagining how the collections will be presented. How we will shoot the film and the scenario. That means that the story is more important than the inspiration. The collection takes shape from the idea of a scenario, then we start with the design process and after that fabric selections. This scenario has to have a global vision to reflect the local. As we are in the east of the west or the west of the east, we are always trying to bring together those two elements in our collections.
This season we were influenced by a historical and archaeological area named Anavarza, located in Adana (Turkey), in the metropole of Cilicians, built in a modern way in the year 527. Romans, Armenians and Ottomans have left really important marks on the city. The idea is to combine an ancient myth with digital video game manners. We shot a film from the eye of the main character who is fighting between an epic love of two kingdoms.
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Your definition of this ethereal collection is as a dichotomy between the past and present, reality and simulation. You seem infatuated with the idea of a digitalised world, in which your models are represented as video game characters, especially in your campaign film (directed by Berkay Karakaya), for this collection as well as the Fall/Winter 2021 collection. What do you think this new digitised, technologically advanced world means for the world of fashion?
The major element that creates the plot of the movie is that the story takes place in a world of video games. We realise that the main character, which we are familiar with from the previous season film of Sudi Etuz, is an avatar and is looking for ways of escaping the game. From time to time, with a wink to magical realism, we bring all sides of love and war for the big duel stage with the audience. I can say that we turned it into digital. We first make our 3D drawings of the pieces before doing samples. For that we have a team of digital artists and AI engineers, making virtual characters, garments and AI educated lip-syncs for our digital humans.
The clothes, like you say, present the polarity of past and present and, at times, an element of the phantasmagorical. Your elegant use of pastel-coloured tulle is exemplified in looks one, three, and five, where the models show off the iridescence of Sudi Etuz dresses, almost resembling elves, or fairy-like beings. Talk us through your inspiration for this transcendental collection.
The collection consists of thirty-five pieces that come to life with tulle, sustainable denim fabrics, sustainable linen, and recycled polyester scallops, bearing the signature of Sudi Etuz. In the balance of white and black, pastel tones of blue, yellow and beige accompany the warmth of the season. Micro tops combined with different lacing techniques in bra form, acrylic bead details and semi-transparent denim trousers are combined with transparent plexi accessories to reflect the cultural mix of Anavarza.
The main muse and idea are bringing different elements of Turkey, the city of Adana and the ancient city Anavarza. Diversity and culture mix the key points for the garments. According to that, using light fabrics to see the skin, wide denims to catch the history, glamorous and voluminous tulle dresses highlight the different eras of this heritage…
Could you tell us a little about how you make your clothes?
Since season three we have been creating collections digitally and applying them to physical items. We start from sketches or any idea related to the concepts. Then we make the 3D version of the design in exact human sizes and we make adjustments to it. After the final design, we start to make the actual physical garment. By this point, we select the right fabric, accessory and technique which mean a lot. Sometimes we design the garment upon the fabric. Smart, innovative and sustainable fabrics are so important for us as we try to minimise carbon footprint in our national and international operations. After drafting the 3D garment the sample is made by zero-waste fabric.
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Apart from your real-life models, you also have virtual models of the ‘Sudi Etuz Virtual Army’ which you introduce on your Instagram page for Sudi Etuz. Why do you choose to display your clothes through virtual models?
Technology was always a seductive field for me that I wanted to relate to fashion design. We got into the tech business in 2019 with the idea of one Facebook Summit and Metaverse. Then we started to create virtual humans, our first character Sui-D is launched as an astrologist. Then we created Trinity as a fashion model to showcase our garments. Last but not least we created my virtual character and I attended an online meeting. It was the first avatar online meeting in Turkey. Virtual humans are not the future, it is now...
What do you think is next for Sudi Etuz? Will you take the idea of a virtual fashion show even further?
We’re launching the mobile app of Sui-D, which is basically a video chatbot and astrology platform where users can get their daily, weekly and monthly astrological interpretations. This is very exciting for us. Also, we’ll showcase our collections in Paris for next season. And more is coming with NFTs, stay tuned!
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