Interview with Fatih Konukoglu

Face2Face
Fatih Konukoglu
Fatih Konukoglu
CEO
Isko
Isko

What steps have you taken with respect to your goal of connecting talent to the denim industry?

To connect young talents to the denim industry, we envisioned and developed Isko-I-Skool, an educational and cultural project that is an integral part of our Responsible Innovation vision. Now in its 7th edition, this project fosters tomorrow's game changers allowing them to learn about responsible denim. It is also enriched by contributions from a wide range of players, such as producers, brands, business partners, artists, influencers and media, enhancing awareness for everyone involved.

Many fashion schools do not include denim within their academic courses, despite the importance of this iconic fabric. To fill this gap, we organise seminars and workshops with a focus on both technical and soft skills development, along with practical sessions where students can experience all the steps of denim production, learning how to transform their projects into real garments.

Isko-I-Skool represents a very special occasion for everyone involved to create value. For us, it is a precious moment to connect with tomorrow's fashion leaders, to be inspired by them and to let innovation and creativity thrive. We are especially glad that with each edition winners are having more and more chances to work with our partnering brands. These internships represent real opportunities to experience the professional world and to understand and positively change the industry from within. We are really happy to be guiding so many young talented people supporting their career in the denim industry.

Denim and blends-from the original work wear denims to the stretch and comfort fashion wears of today-do you go by trends or do you create trends? Kindly elaborate.

We try to anticipate trends, rather than follow them. When it comes to product development, much of our inspiration comes from creativity that we see all around us. With our offices across the globe, we regularly receive market insights from the end consumer and customers to develop our collection.

Have the current US-China trade war, Brexit, etc impacted your business?

We have a balanced portfolio of customers globally that is not affected by any specific country's social or political scenarios.

Have the current US-China trade war, Brexit, etc impacted your business?

From which geographies is the demand most from?

We have over 7,000 active customers from all around the world supported by our local offices, based in 35 different countries.

In the last year, we have expanded our marketing team welcoming new members of staff to the Isko family in both the United Kingdom, Benelux and Japan. We have also opened a London office. You could say that our company goes beyond geographic boundaries.

What futuristic and cutting-edge technologies is Isko working on?

In addition to our revolutionary R-Two platform, we are busy working on two other cutting-edge projects.

Arquas 6.0 is the latest version of our fabric platform for the sports industry. Resulting from our Responsible Innovation approach, it is a combination of high performance properties and woven technologies. This features 35 brand new fabrics, most of which are made with certified recycled materials, providing a new era for activewear and sportswear.

Arquas 6.0 is all about versatility, conceived for designers and brands worldwide. The fabrics of this collection deliver superior performance and stand out in the industry for their woven quality (although many of them have the look and hand feel of knits), providing a wide range of benefits and performance properties.

Featuring nylon, for the first time, to present super light woven and cosy outdoor fabrics, Arquas 6.0 includes reversible and packable styles, as well as patented fabrics, such as four way-stretch Isko Blue Skin for a 360° elasticity. The collection also offers super compact fabrics that are made suitable also for fully bonded garments with body shaping and high recovery properties.

To underline the adaptability of these textile concepts, Isko has worked on creating a selection of high-quality garments based on three lifestyles: active, outdoor and club sports. 

Another innovative project we are really proud of is Isko Vital, the first fabric and garment technology platform worldwide delivering woven compression product system. This has been certified by the independent Hohenstein Institute and it has also received the endorsement of a plethora of physicians. It is approved by the FDA, the US Food and Drug Administration. 

Compression is an innovative technology that can be involved in the product development of many industries. By applying pressure to the body, it facilitates a pumping mechanism that improves the blood flow in the veins, helping it back to the heart to be cleaned and oxygenated. Among its many possible applications, Isko Vital is great for the athleisure market as it can aid recovery after high-impact sports, decreasing muscle soreness and allowing a better muscle oxygenation. 

We have also been carrying out research in the field of wearable technology. We have developed touch sensitive technology that was incorporated into our exhibitions at Milan Design Week and at Copenhagen Fashion Summit. Here IskoTouch sensitive technology was used to allow attendees to hear sound on touching the fabric, without using traditional buttons and switches. We will be exhibiting our wearable technology at the Wearable technology fair in Tokyo in January 2020.

Which major denim brands according to you make responsible and low impact denim products?

There are many brands that we work with who are actively committed to having a positive impact on the whole industry through their mindful visions. Some examples include: Ksenia Schnaider who is really pushing the boundaries of fashion denim in a responsible way; Taylor Stitch who is really committed to making responsible men's denim that is built to last, using the fabrics that include our 100 per cent organic selvedge.

What are the top three trends dominating the denim industry currently in terms of weaves, materials, colours and finishes?

Our SS21 sums up what we believe to be the top three trends currently dominating the denim industry. 

First, there is Isko EFD, or Eco/Ecru for Dye that delivers a responsible approach to white fabric production reducing the number of processes in the fabric production. We skip the pre-bleaching process normally used for RFD fabrics. By doing this, we reduce the use of energy, chemicals and water. Pre-bleaching/pre-washing is already done in the laundries before garment dyeing, EFD avoids extra processing. This differentiates Isko EFD from other manufactures' white fabric production process as at Isko we start with an ecru coloured base that delivers an on-trend natural look that can be dyed to any colour. We offer EFD in a wide range of fabric constructions and weights.

Secondly, we continue to innovate in the jegging area with the introduction of new super lightweight constructions (6 oz-11 oz) that have perfect elasticity (35-45 per cent) and hug the curves of the body like a second skin.

Finally, we have evolved our IskoMantra concept for this season, and we have introduced fabrics that are infused with aloe vera and ginseng which energise, moisturise and rejuvenate the skin. The fabrics not only look great but they also have the feel good factor. 

What are the long-term sustainability goals set at Isko in times to come? What can be expected from Isko in terms of new product offerings and capacity expansions in 2020?

We have recently become the first Turkish mill awarded with the Oeko-Tek's Step certification, an achievement that makes us extremely proud and pleased as it results from an incredible teamwork. Early 2020, we will also be launching the first Isko Sustainability Report which will provide our partners with a clear overview of our achievements to date from an environmental and social point of view. Here, we will also articulate our future vision. (HO)
Published on: 30/12/2019

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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