The holiday destination Turkey with its famous beaches is likely not one of the countries foremost on everyone’s mind when it comes to fashion and e-commerce. In terms of religion, as much as 90% of the population follows Islam, and 70% of those the Sunni faith. When it comes to apparel, women are encouraged to cover most of their bodies except for their hands and faces. A bit difficult to make much of a fashion statement then, you might think.

Turkish fashion & design

Of course, Turkish women in the metropolitan cities of Istanbul and Ankara will always wear their hijab when entering a mosque. In everyday life, however, they have considerably more freedom when choosing an outfit.

Somewhat surprisingly, some of the most famous fashion designers in Turkey today are women. That fact was celebrated at the Paris Fashion Week in 2023, where some of the most avant-garde Turkish designers were featured prominently.

Istanbul has become a new international fashion hub after its first edition of the Istanbul Fashion Days in 2009. The Istanbul Fashion Connection IFCO is held twice a year, with its next iteration in Istanbul on August 7-9, 2024.

IFCO is Istanbul’s ready-to-wear & fashion fair and is the largest fair of its kind in Europe and Eurasia. An event that brings together Turkey’s high-quality and versatile clothing collections with buyers from all over the world.

Manufacturing hub

And yet, Turkey is much better known for its production of fabrics and apparel than for its designers. By 2020, the country had risen to the Top 5 producers of textiles (mainly cotton) in the world. It had become Europe’s second-largest supplier of finished apparel (after China).

As a result, when we put “fashion”, “e-commerce”, and “Turkey” into a sentence, everyone’s first thought will always be about manufacturing. The country has 59,000 companies operating in textile, footwear, and apparel manufacturing. Each sector produces a turnover of 65 billion dollars a year. The country’s top five export destinations are Russia, Italy, Germany, Romania, and the UK.

Turkey’s fashion e-commerce market at home

In the Turkish fashion retail market, the online share was 17.2% in 2023, and is expected to increase by an average of 4.5% to 20.5% by 2027. ranked at number 1 and was the most visited fashion and apparel website in Turkey in April 2024. The e-commerce giant is closely followed by as the runner-up, and coming 3rd in Turkey.

The average household income in Turkey before 2023 was just over USD 5,000.00 per annum, which means fast fashion is, unfortunately, the go-to shopping choice. The Turkish government announced a hike in minimum wages by 55% from Jan 2023. In effect, the minimum wage in Turkey rose to TRY 8,506.80 (USD 455)/month in 2023.

Skilled workers are abundant in the textile and fashion industry in Turkey, which, combined with the comparatively low wages makes the country a perfect manufacturing location for many fashion retailers.

It should therefore come as no big surprise that Zara (Inditex Group), one of the world’s largest fashion retailers, works closely with Turkish manufacturers for the production of their clothing lines. The Swedish fashion retailer H&M has a significant presence in Turkey’s manufacturing sector as well.

Bottom line

It would probably not be very lucrative to try and enter the Turkish fashion e-commerce market at this point. The comparatively low household income in Turkey does not lend itself to spending much on fashion – no matter how unique your designs and ideas may be. A far better bet would be having your products manufactured there. Turkey’s particular expertise in garment manufacturing, combined with the low wage package to consider in your own bottom line, may be the difference between success or failure in a very competitive market.



autor_eurotext_100Author: Eurotext Editorial Team

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