WHAT WE LOVE: Tailored suits, colorful bow ties, vintage accessories and other delightful fashionable eccentricities come together at Civan, a shop for men who adore the dapper gentleman look of the past (with a twist).
WHERE: In the Beyoğlu neighborhood of Istanbul near the Galata Tower.
WHO: Bahar Gözkün and Kerem Küçükgürel opened the shop in 2012.
What year was Civan established? June, 2012.
Genre? Bespoke menswear.
How would you describe your shop? Retro textures that blend with garments. Every look we create has something surprising.
What is the story behind the name Civan? Civan is a word with Persian roots that is also present in many other languages, including Turkish. Translating to ‘young man,’ Civan is no longer used that often in Turkish and we chose this name because of its meaning and vintage feeling.
Who designed the shop? My partner in crime Kerem Küçükgürel who is originally an interior designer.
What are you known for? We’re famous for our tailored suits, design shirts and bow ties.
Where is your product sourced and made? We get our products from local and exported sources, mostly on order and our designs are made in house by our tailors.
What makes your shop unique? Our shop is a rare concept in Istanbul, a place where unique design and bespoke men’s items meet.
Who are your customers? In the local market, most of our customers are grooms who are looking for something different in terms of their wedding suit. Our other customers live outside of Turkey and possess a rather unique taste and value the work of local designers.
How has the internet impacted your business? The internet makes our brand visible and easy to access. Online reviews also help to increase customer trust in the brand.
Bahar Gözkün and Kerem Küçükgürel,
Who inspires you? We are both inspired by our grandparents and really everyone who lives life with grace and respect and manage to look good while doing so.
What inspires you? We’re inspired by the end result of labor and beauty; vintage pieces that are beautifully made with details and a kind of magic in their craft.
Before we were shopkeepers, we… Bahar used to live in The Netherlands, working as a pattern designer after her studies. Kerem is originally an interior designer and still undertakes other creative projects.
What motivated you to open a shop? The idea behind the shop was very unique, we wanted to bring a concept of bespoke men’s fashion that hadn’t really been done before in Istanbul. We soon discovered that the world of menswear is a giant playground with many different things to try out.
Did you have prior retail experience? No, we didn’t.
The hardest lesson learned in starting a business? No pain, no gain.
What is your favorite thing about owning an independent shop? We really don’t have to do anything that we don’t like or do not approve of.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? You have to work hard and be patient, because you will fail many times.
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? We would still be creating things in independent fields.
What is your perfect day off? A perfect off day starts with a good breakfast at Journey followed by coffee at Swedish Coffee Point, around where we live in the Cihangir neighborhood. We like to brainstorm a lot and get inspired while walking in the streets of historical İstanbul city. We also visitthe Şamdan Antik, Tombak and Mozkantique shops in Çukurcuma to checkout new details and materials.
Five top social media tips? Use beautiful images, Complete the visual language, Stories are important to keep the audience interested, No post attacks, Avoid visual pollution.
We wish we could… make costumes for The Great Gatsby movie.
ON THE FUTURE OF RETAIL
“Like most people, we believe that retail will be interrupted by the rise of online shops and the digital world. But at the moment, we still have the time to allow customers to touch the materials before they buy them. We think that quality brands will always be out there physically. However, we do wish that the retail world will become more sustainable and respectful because fast consumption damages our world.”
Müeyyedzade Mh. Serdar-ı Ekrem Cd. 20 D:2, Beyoğlu
Feride Yalav-Heckeroth is a Berlin-based freelance writer and the author of The 500 Hidden Secrets of Istanbul. Her favorite shops are Souq Dükkan in Istanbul for the best of local design, Ryoko in Berlin for artisan Japanese goods, and Homemade Aromaterapi in Istanbul for 100% natural beauty products.