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Harpers Bazaar Interview - 09.06.2020

In Touch With Nature

Ela Mete and Defne Özdoğan create designs that are attentive to environment and people under the Atelier Tenera brand, where they reflect their innovative and questioning approach.

Bade Çakar

Is it possible for you to tell us the story of Atelier Tenera?
We combined our strengths as architecture and textile design students at London Central Saint Martins. While we continue to question why natural products have become a luxury and only fast and synthetic fashion products are available to everyone, we have begun to look into natural fashion alternatives. We decided to create a colorful, fun and experimental brand that is friendly and accessible. Atelier Tenera came to life as a result of our mutual admiration for drawing, color, and fabric. We researched and started to apply traditional and modern printing techniques.

What steps have you taken to incorporate sustainability into your brand?
There is no waste in nature itself. What comes from nature returns to nature, and natural products are part of this cycle. We are inspired by nature in our production process and designs. Our search for sustainability is ongoing, and at the heart of it is a commitment to environmental protection and human health.

How does the design process work?
Each collection begins with a new story. Instead of releasing 5-6 collections a year, we give each collection the time it needs to form more flexibly. We determine the spirit of our story by painting, photographing and creating a color palette of nature and culture that we are inspired by. And after that, using the printing techniques we've learned, we design the fabrics that will make up the collection. We colored the fabrics for our first collection by boiling natural products such as walnut shell, onionskin, and turmeric, which can be found in any home. All of the fabrics in our summer collection were hand-painted with natural Moroccan root dyes.

What is your source of inspiration?
The inspiration that can come from a stranger's story, music we hear, or a new natural environment we discover develops with clues we gather from various sources and forms our story. The source of inspiration always surprises us.

Is it possible to follow trends while protecting the environment?
Tenera is a brand that focuses and inspires on current social issues rather than fashion trends. One of the features that identifies Tanera is its ability to create new trends by experimenting with and valuing random formations.

What methods do you use to ensure sustainability?
We use natural dyeing techniques to color our fabrics woven with local, natural yarns. Our digital printing products are made from natural fabrics by minimizing the use of chemicals. We make use of the entire fabric and the paint. We minimize the amount of waste by producing accessories from the remaining fabrics. We make every effort to provide parts that can be used for multiple purposes. Our trouser design can be worn as an overall, and our sarongs can be worn as a variety of dresses and skirts.

How much consumer support and demand do you believe sustainable fashion receives?
It’s getting more support than we thought. First of all, because sustainable fashion is intertwined with comfort, customers who enjoy the comfort of products are satisfied. Furthermore, we have a large number of supporters who follow us on social media and leave supportive comments, which makes us very happy.

Consumption came to a halt during the pandemic. What are the takeaways from this experience?
The pandemic has created a great deal of awareness in every aspect. We have seen how the air is cleaned and how nature and all living things are stabilized during this period when nature is not abused. We hope that once the world has survived this period, the textile industry will act much more responsibly, particularly in terms of chemical waste and carbon emissions. Furthermore, we believe that consumers are aware of the importance of shopping and will switch to more reasonable shopping in terms of quantity and variety in the near future.

What do you think of the future of fashion?
With the development of technology, new production methods are emerging. These methods allow fashion to be both more functional and recyclable. Alternatives to harmful materials to the environment already exist in nature, and it's only a matter of time before they're available in the fashion industry. We believe that the cost of these technologies will determine how quickly they enter the industry. Returning to nature is currently a high priority on everyone's agenda all over the world. The social awareness that consumers will gain about sustainability after the pandemic will also play an important role in the fashion world's future.

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