The luxury world may be struggling, but the contemporary fashion category is booming especially in Asia with brands from the US, France and Scandinavia entering the market. The latest label to hit the shelves, ST. by Olcay Gulsen, comes from the most unlikely of fashion capitals – Amsterdam.
The brand is the brainchild of fashion entrepeneuer and style icon, Olcay Gulsen (who also happens to be a judge on the Dutch version of Project Catwalk), and was only founded earlier this year. It already has a huge celebrity following including the likes of Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Beyonce and Kendall Jenner.
It’s easy to see why. ST. is all about high quality wardrobe staples with a creative spin. For autumn/winter 2016 for example, blazers and jumpsuits are updated with sheer panels and lace details while a white blouse comes with an asymmetrical front panel. A flirty full skirted mini dress is updated with a feather print. The overall look is sophisticated yet playful making it perfect for a market like Asia where women are looking for fashionable styles that stand out without being recognisable.
Last month the brand opened its first boutique in Pacific Place and this week sees the launch of an exhibition at Pacific Place along with a new store at Festival Walk.
We grabbed the opportunity to chat with Olcay when she was in town to find out about her latest collection and why the Netherlands could be the next new fashion hub…
You started your career in recruitment – how did you end up launching your own fashion brand?
I always loved fashion and I loved business. I started my career recruiting the right people for the right fashion companies. My next step was importing cool brands and then I thought – why not start my own fashion brand?
How is ST. by Olcay Gulsen different to your original line SuperTrash…
The story of ST. by Olcay Gulsen took off with this search for the fundament of every woman’s wardrobe. And more importantly, I felt the need to fill the gap between high street and high end.
The brand is about the perfect wardrobe. It’s a mix of classics you can’t live without matched with tailored pieces, key items and essentials topped with seasonal injections. Simple but refined and made to last. ST. by OG is more wearable, whereas Olcay Gulsen is a better fit for red carpet events.
Affordable luxury is a segment that is growing fast – how do you maintain this luxurious feel while still being affordable?
It is important to give every woman the opportunity to feel sexy and confident in what she wears. Luxury is not just in the price, it is in the way garments are tailored and fitted.
How important are trends when it comes to designing your collections?
Of course trends are there to inspire, but with the new line the concept of timeless pieces has become very important. We look less at what is in fashion now, but rather at quality and what we would still love to wear in five years time.
What can we expect from your latest collection?
It’s all about strong females, who dare to be bold, be themselves. The looks are very feminine with statement pieces that are inspired by girl scouts and real pioneers, but modernised for today’s women. Floor length coats for example and military style dresses. We used a lot of black and lace and strong lines that fit the theme perfectly. I absolutely love the red we used for this collection. It’s so fierce. You only need one item like that to make a powerful first impression.
The Netherlands isn’t exactly a style capital – what do you think is unique about fashion brands coming out of the country?
Dutch women tend to choose practicality and comfort over style, but I think our style as a country is slowly progressing. We still love to be comfortable (especially since we cycle so much), but looking stylish and feeling confident is as important.
What’s the best bit of style advice you can offer women?
Looking and feeling confident is the most important thing when choosing an outfit. You can wear the most expensive or extravagant clothes, but if you’re not happy or confident wearing them, it just looks miserable. On a happier note: clothes on the other hand can actually make you feel better. Heels to me – for instance – are magic. I put them on and no matter how I feel, I instantly feel powerful and sexy.
The Pacific Place store (top) and exhibition (above)
To celebrate the launch of the first ST. by Olcay Gulsen pop-up store the brand is hosting a #StyleRevolution Exhibition (Pacific Place, Admiralty) until 21 September 2015 featuring photo booths and other free goodies. ST. by Olcay Gulsen boutiques in Hong Kong are at Shop 122, L1, Pacific Place, Admiralty, tel: 2595 0027 and Shop LG1-61, Festival Walk, Kowloon Tong, tel: 2567 8703.