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The Queer Turkish Brand Creating a Safe Space to Explore Fashion

Fashion can be an empowering way to explore who you are and your identity, however many LGBTQ+ people can feel locked out of an industry led by heteronormativity. On top of this, the environmental impact of the fashion industry is astronomical. From exploited garment works to growing carbon emissions, it can be difficult to feel any pride for an industry that too often prioritses profit over human beings and the planet. However, there are brands that are here to change that, proving that you can have safe havens within the industry. Zoe Schulz, from myGwork spoke to Eda Burcu Şenel and Ece Pişirici about their brand Queerlish and why it was so important for them to create a queer-led environmentally friendly brand.




Hi Eda and Ece – thanks for chatting with us! It would be great to learn a bit about you both, can you introduce yourselves?

Eda: Sure! This is Eda, I’m 25 years old. I am a Fashion Business professional who graduated from Istituto Marangoni Paris. While I was a student in France, I had the opportunity to do internships at world-famous brands such as Christian Dior. After improving myself by working in general management and marketing of many fashion brands in Istanbul, Ece and I took a step towards launching Queerlish.

 

Ece: Hello, this is Ece. I can say that my life was basically full of music. While I was performing as a drummer, I was continuing my education in French Language Teaching at Anadolu University in Turkey. After I met Eda, I moved to Istanbul and took part in many acting projects. Then, with Eda, we took action to establish Queerlish.

 

We are also social media influencers, we create content about our relationship as a couple, vlogs about our life and also talk about LGBTQ+ issues in Turkey. We try our best to speak up and normalize being queer in our country. Social media is a part of our life since we started creating content on platforms such as YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. We hope we won’t be the only lesbian couple doing this in Turkey in the future.



 

And can you tell us about Queerlish?

Our safe space, Queerlish, values people of all colors, genders and orientations for the reason they’re ‘human’, takes its inspiration from the power and colors of love.

 

We use our products as a tool to advocate for universal equality, freedom and visibility. We design our collections, each inspired by a different story, with the aim of raising awareness on social issues such as mental health. While doing this, we never compromise on quality and sustainability. We offer long-lasting products made of quality fabrics to your use in 100% recyclable packages.

 

If a queer brand was to be established in Turkey, it was very important for us to choose a name that would fearlessly stand behind this brand. That's why we wanted to include the word 'queer' in the name of our brand.



 

It’s a fantastic and much-needed brand – why did you first start it?

We wanted to show that queer individuals in Turkey can be successful in the fashion business. We have so many projects that we look forward to carrying out in the future. Our name being Queerlish expresses how free and fearless we are. We are here, we exist, we don’t want to hide.

 

Have there been any hurdles along the way?

Of course, there have been hurdles but not enough to demotivate us. We already knew that we would get so many homophobic comments from homophobic people in Turkey, we were already prepared for this. But there hasn’t been anything we didn’t expect.



 

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business?

They shouldn’t wait for something to happen to take a step forward. We should always dream big but also know to take small steps at a time. We believe that dreaming big is good for the future but aiming for small achievements is better for the day to day motivation. Also, never stop believing yourself, no matter what others say.

 

Do you think there is currently enough LGBTQ+ inclusion within the fashion industry?

Honestly, no. Especially in Turkey, we are the only brand that is openly queer and not only in Pride month. This needs to change, and we hope there will be more LGBTQ+ inclusion in the fashion industry.

 

What is your favorite part of running Queerlish?

We often get feedback from our customers about how they feel better and accepted about wearing Queerlish. They often buy Queerlish as a gift to their partner and we love seeing matching Queerlish products on LGBTQ+ couples!



 

With so much success behind you - what are you hoping to do next?

As we are new in this industry as Queerlish, we have so many things to do on the list. We are working on finding ways to enlarge our horizons as an international fashion brand. We want to be accessible not only for Turkish people but also for every single queer & queer-friendly people in the world. We are trying our best to deliver the highest-quality products in the most sustainable way to our customers.

 

Find Queerlish:

Queerlish Website

Queerlish (For people who want to order outside of Turkey)

Queerlish Instagram

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