ZERUJ PORT: AN EN­TIRE MALL DED­I­CATED TO MOD­EST FASH­ION

World’s first mall ded­i­cated to mod­est fash­ion has opened in Is­tan­bul’s Zeyt­in­burnu district. From cloth­ing to house­hold items, Zeruj Port aims to bring trendy mod­est fash­ion brands un­der one roof

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Lifestyle -

IT CAN be ar­gued that the fash­ion in­dus­try to­day - as a sec­tor that was dom­i­nated ini­tially by white supremacy, like al­most ev­ery other sec­tor in the world - has reached its most in­clu­sive phase in its his­tory.

Once, the in­dus­try only ad­dressed white, up­per-class males and fe­males who fit into so­ci­etal norms per­fectly. Yet nowa­days, many parts of so­ci­ety who were ex­cluded or over­looked for many years, can find a place for them­selves in the fash­ion world.

There are dozens of plus-size fash­ion lines, black fash­ion designers at the high­est ranks of the most fa­mous brands and of course, mod­est fash­ion is one of the lat­est and most pre­cious productions of the fash­ion in­dus­try.

While many in­ter­na­tional brands started to launch their own mod­est fash­ion lines, in­clud­ing H&M and Dolce & Gab­bana, Turkey has in­tro­duced a new as­pect to the con­cept by launch­ing the world’s first con­ser­va­tive, women-spe­cific mall.

BRANDS

Zeruj Port brings to­gether mod­est fash­ion brands, and not just top brands that have been dom­i­nat­ing the sec­tor for years. The shop­ping cen­ter ad­dresses women of all ages.

The stores at the mall con­sist mostly of pop­u­lar In­sta­gram brands, which ad­dress the younger au­di­ence with their styles that bring a mod­ern and fresh look. The ma­jor­ity of these shops are the first ac­tual stores that these so­cial me­dia brands have opened.

For an average cus­tomer like me, it is not only con­ve­nient to be able to see what I liked on so­cial me­dia but also it is in­spir­ing that so many women who were mostly ei­ther housewives or stu­dents at first, be­came so suc­cess­ful that they now have their own bou­tiques. More credit should also be given to the mall for its wide va­ri­ety in the cloth­ing spec­trum.

Although I be­lieve it could be bet­ter, for a newly launched mall, it was good to see that there are sev­eral se­lec­tions that are of­fered to the cus­tomers from more ca­sual lines to dressier lines.

Thank­fully, Zeruj Port does not only con­sist of fash­ion brands but also stores that sell house­hold items or prod­ucts that are spe­cific for chil­dren.

Ac­tu­ally, as a cov­ered woman my­self, I think that this is a re­ally creative and even ben­e­fi­cial con­cept that has lots of po­ten­tial. In my opin­ion, for a long time there was an in­vis­i­ble de­mand in so­ci­ety for such a place. This could eas­ily be ob­served from the pop­u­lar­ity of the mod­est fash­ion brands that emerged on the so­cial me­dia plat­forms like In­sta­gram.

PRICES

Yet, there is also a down­side to the mall, which is the fact that it also falls into the trap of over-pric­ing. For many years, the fash­ion in­dus­try over­looked the de­mand for mod­est fash­ion wear and of­fered al­most noth­ing to cus­tomers, even in coun­tries like Turkey where the ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion is Mus­lim and half of the women wear head­scarves.

A few years ago when mod­ern mod­est fash­ion brands started to emerge, they saw the po­ten­tial in the mar­ket and tried es­tab­lished their own mo­nop­oly with highly over-priced items.

Nat­u­rally, these brands ad­dressed only the up­per crust of the so­ci­ety. Yet, although it is usu­ally ex­pected for the in­dus­tries that as the mar­ket grows, many al­ter­na­tives with lower prices would also emerge and can ad­dress the whole so­ci­ety, the mod­est fash­ion in­dus­try sur­prised all of us by lack­ing in the num­ber of al­ter­na­tives de­spite the great­ness of its size.

There is cer­tainly a more mod­er­ately priced mod­est fash­ion mar­ket but, it is grow­ing re­ally slowly.

The real prob­lem is that places like Zeruj Port, which is lo­cated in a very mod­er­ate neigh­bor­hood in Zeyt­in­burnu, Is­tan­bul, don’t support more rea­son­able al­ter­na­tives. In­stead they pro­vide over­whelm­ing support to the ones that only serve cer­tain peo­ple in a cer­tain fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion, leav­ing the oth­ers out­side and caus­ing one of the big­gest prob­lems in the mod­est fash­ion in­dus­try.

WEL­COM­ING TO ALL

One thing should be men­tioned as well: Although the mall gar­nered a lot of at­ten­tion thanks to its em­pha­sis on “women-only” as­pect, I be­lieve it was ac­tu­ally false ad­ver­tise­ment and mis­lead­ing peo­ple.

When you say a mall is for the women only, one can eas­ily as­sume that it is open only for the women, mean­ing that no men are al­lowed, which could have eas­ily been de­manded by some women who embrace mod­est cloth­ing and yet could also be very prob­lem­atic in terms of a fem­i­nist point of view.

When it comes to Zeruj Port, we don’t have to dis­cuss any of these since the mall ac­tu­ally is wel­com­ing for the male cus­tomers.

As a mat­ter of fact, de­spite be­ing opened by a women, Zehra Özkay­maz, and con­sist­ing mostly of brands that are owned by women, even at the open­ing cer­e­mony of the mall, there was only one woman that can be seen in the pho­tos which is quite in­ter­est­ing for a mall that claims to be spe­cific to women.

In fact, Zeruj Port brings to­gether many mod­est fash­ion brands in an open-air mall which any­one who wishes, in­clud­ing men, can visit and shop at.

RESTAU­RANTS

The best next thing in the mall is ac­tu­ally a restau­rant, which stands out with its taste, qual­ity and rea­son­able pric­ing.

With aims to be­come a “mod­ern ar­ti­sanal restau­rant,” the owner of the restau­rant Siret Al­bayrak said, his restau­rant is al­ready quite am­bi­tious in the food sec­tor although it opened only eight months ago.

“We al­ready have a cer­tain cus­tomer mass,” said Al­bayrak while em­pha­siz­ing that they wish to be one of the cult restau­rants in Is­tan­bul.

All the in­gre­di­ents of their meals are or­ganic and come from dif­fer­ent parts of Turkey. Even the chefs of the restau­rant are all from the Men­gen district of Turkey’s Bolu province, which is fa­mous for its chefs and their delicious food.

“We are open to change and try to im­prove our­selves ev­ery day in ac­cor­dance with our cus­tomers’ sug­ges­tions,” Al­bayrak fur­ther un­der­lined while high­light­ing that they aim to ad­dress the whole of so­ci­ety by keep­ing their prices at a rea­son­able level, un­like many other stores in the mall.

Zehra Özkay­maz, who is known as Zeruj on so­cial me­dia, poses dur­ing the open­ing on May 11.

Peo­ple dis­cover the brands and shops at Zeruj Port on May 11.

Is­tan­bul

Şeyma Na­zlı Gür­büz

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