WHAT WE LOVE: A womenswear boutique reflecting the elegant style of its impeccably stylish shopkeeper. Fey Istanbul’s timeless garments and vintage accessories will never be out of style because they transcend fashion trends.
WHERE: In Istanbul’s upscale neighborhood of Nişantaşı.
WHO: Fatoş Yalın,Turkey’s first fashion editor.
What year was Fey established? Fey opened in May, 2012.
What genre is Fey? My goal is to exhibit clothing and accessories that are timeless and will never be out of style because they don’t abide to any fashion trends.
Can you describe Fey in a few sentences? When I opened Fey, my thoughts were well outside the concept of classic ‘commerce.’ I wanted it to be hidden, a shop visited by those who knew or heard about it rather than those who just walked past it. A‘place,’ and not a ‘store,’ where people feel at ease and find joy whilst browsing.
Why was the name Fey chosen? Fey means ‘unique,’ and ‘out of this world,’ in old English.It was used to describeJackie Kennedy by her husband JFK.
Who designed the shop? No one really designed the shop, but at the beginning Riza Tansu gave me the idea to paint the low ceilings black in order to make them appear higher and more appealing. That really changed the whole atmosphere. After that we started to alter the moods by hanging the decoration and the images on the walls every six months.
What are you famous for? I love button-down shirts and I wear them a lot, so we produced alot of quality cotton shirts with the right buttoning and those quickly became one of our bestselling items. Apart from that, fine cashmere knitwear and skirts are also quite in demand.
What are the 3 “must have items” in your shop? One should definitely buy a white cotton shirt, pea coat and baby calf desert boots from Fey.
Where and how is product sourced and made? Items are mostly produced in Turkey, however the fabrics and trims we use are mostly European or made in Turkey for high quality export. The cashmere is produced in Italy, a lot of accessories are imported from Europe and I buy the vintage jewelry from America.
What makes Fey unique? Fey is unique! Because its philosophy revolves around “being professional as possible with the most amateur soul.” I don’t encounter any other examples similar to my own. Without thinking at all about what will or will not sell (it’s impossible for me to know this anyway), I only produce what I like and feel is necessary. A lot of copies of our designs have begun to emerge recently, so I sadly can’t divulge the certain details in production, apart from quality, that set them apart from the rest. However, it’s these details that truly make the difference.
Who are Fey’s customers? Our customers have been quite diverse in the past two years, but generally they are working professionals who have grown weary of the ‘famous brands,’ and are looking for practical outfits for their daily lives.
How has the internet impacted your business? I try to keep my website updated and I use Instagram, however, and as I mentioned before, since I don’t want to appeal to a large audience my account is set to private. This is because as the number of followers increase, taste and understanding begins to diverge, and opinions are expressed haphazardly.I feel that this does nothing but to muddle the message I’m trying to express.
Fatoş Yalın, Shopkeeper at Fey
Who inspires you? Intelligent people inspire me! Sometimes it’s a writer, sometimes a friend, a sentence uttered during a conversation…
Before I was a shopkeeper, I…. was an editor. I was Turkey’s first fashion editor whilst working at Marie Claire (Turkey’s first licensed magazine) for 10 years before I became editor-in-chief for another seven. After that I worked seven years as general manager at a few other magazines. When the magazine industry in Turkey ceased to make any progress, I wanted to do my own work. After working the Vizon runway shows, which was my first job, and until I began to work at Marie Claire, I also worked at Yargıcı’s newly opened store in Nişantaşı for two and a half years.
The hardest lesson learned in starting a business? When I opened a shop I suddenly started a job I’d never done before. All I knew was how to make selections and style them, but I hadn’t factored in another very important part: production! I never knew how difficult it was to get someone, who doesn’t share your perspective at all, to make those vital and final touches to your products. Fortunately, in the last two years I was able to find some great ateliers and things have been easier, but the beginning was quite difficult.
Your favorite thing about owning an independent shop? Fey is more of a place where I like to spend time rather than just a shop. Plus, the answer is in the question, being ‘independent,’ is the most satiating state in the world.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? The way I work often appears very strange to other people, but it’s very personal and completely tailored to my own whims. That’s why it wouldn’t be right to give advice to someone without knowing them or how or why they’re opening a shop.
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? I don’t know, I never really planned anything, it just sort of happened. The space, where my shop is now located on Mim Kemal Öke street, appeared before me one day after a lunch break. It was exactly how I’d imagined it, a beautiful street and a hidden location. I rented it the next day without really knowing what I would do. I just knew what I wouldn’t do.
What is your perfect day off in Istanbul? I love Istanbul very much, but in the last few years I’ve only been going to the same places. The city has become very crowded so I prefer to go to places where I feel I belong. I still love the area around the Grand Bazaar. I love to drop by Shalabi and the İç Bedesten, the Türkmen market and the textile shops, having lunch at Havuzlu, Şehmuz or walking to the Egyptian Bazaar and eating at Pandelli. My three favorite places to dine are: Kıyı in Tarabya for traditional seafood, Amandabravo in Emirgan for contemporary Turkish cuisine and Karaköy Lokantası in the old part of town
Do you have five favorite shops? Erkal Aksoy’s A la Turca, Envai Bebek, Shalabi and Epoque Grand Bazaar, Assouline Bebek.
I wish I could… I wish l could go back to 90’s
ON THE FUTURE OF RETAIL
“I think the concept of ‘uniqueness,’ is going to become important in retail. “
MİM KEMAL ÖKE CADDESİ, NO:9, 34365 NİŞANTAŞI
Words by Feride Yalav-Heckeroth.
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.