�Devon Pendleton and Isobel Finkel
jumped 24 percent, to 7 billion lira. That’s made Kucuk’s brother Mustafa, Waikiki’s chief executive officer, a billionaire. The onetime sheepherder’s 39 percent stake in the company is valued at $1.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Vahap’s 9 percent stake is worth about $400 million. The Kucuks declined to comment on their wealth.
Originally a French brand (the LC stands for les copains, or “friends”), Waikiki developed a reputation for eccentric designs and bright colors. In the 1980s it started buying textiles from the Kucuk family’s company. The Kucuks and a handful of partners became the brand’s local wholesale distributor in 1990; seven years later they bought Waikiki from its founders. Mustafa and Vahap are emblematic of the so- called Anatolian Tigers, a generation of entrepreneurs, mostly conservative and hailing from the country’s east—the equivalent of the U. S. Bible Belt when compared with more secular Istanbul—who have thrived under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Once asked by a sociologist to explain Waikiki’s success, Vahap said, “The secret is to understand the Anatolian customer.”
Few other mass-market brands in Turkey appeal so directly to conservative dressers. Ayse Nil Kirecci, a professor at Maltepe University in Istanbul who’s written about Waikiki’s role as a “democratizing” force in Turkish fashion, says its fabrics tend to be thicker than those used by Zara or Mango, and the necklines are typically less revealing. Still, Waikiki plays well to secular consumers, with pencil skirts and sleeveless blouses, treading a delicate line in a country where politics are sometimes expressed in consumer preferences. “It’s not for conservative people, it’s not for liberal people,” says Murat Ergene, a retail consultant who advises the company. “It’s for everyone.”
Edited by James E. Ellis and Dimitra Kessenides Bloomberg.com The loss Walt Disney expects to take on The Finest Hours, its first movie flop of the year. its most recent animated feature, opened at $75 million, stronger than The bottom line Waikiki is bringing fashions that appeal to the secular and the observant to countries across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.