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Fashion Show (2:55) Excerpt from film "Turkey's Tigers", August 2006
A fashion show in Istanbul is Tekbir's chance to display its new line of women's clothing.

Country: Turkey

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Guiding Questions
  1. What are the aspects of Tekbir's new clothing line that will make these clothes appealing to conservative women?

  2. How does the fashion show integrate both traditional and secular aspects of Turkish culture?

  3. Think about the clothing worn by people in another society you have studied. How does this clothing illustrate the values and culture of the people who wear it?
Background Essay
Tekbir, a successful textile company in Turkey, developed a new line of clothing designed to appeal to women who are both affluent and devout. The clothing adheres to Islamic notions of modesty. Only some women in Turkey dress this way, however, and the conservative dress code is not followed even by some of Tekbir's own fashion models. The clothing and the fashion show demonstrate the complex relationship between religion and secularism in Turkey.

Turkey is located in a part of the world that was once called the Near East. For centuries it was a link between Europe and Asia. Its main city, Istanbul (previously called Constantinople), was a trading, religious, and social hub. Both Christianity and Islam have had major influences on the development of Turkey's culture.

In the early 1900s Turkey experienced a period of rapid economic and social change. In 1923, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a popular leader in Turkey's military, declared the establishment of the Turkish Republic. He launched an aggressive program to modernize and secularize the country, which brought about many changes. Turkey has modernized its economy and is poised to become a member of the European Union. Simultaneously, religious and political leaders are working to preserve traditional Islamic aspects of Turkey's culture while embracing some of the West's attitudes and practices. Turkey's future stability and growth will be determined by how well it can incorporate the rich heritage of its past into its goals for future.

One of the industries that is confronted with this change is the garment industry. Some women in Turkey choose to wear traditional Islamic garb, while many others choose to wear non-traditional Western attire. What does this mean for business leaders in Turkey? What does it mean for female consumers? In the Turkey that is evolving, will there be room for both the past and the future?

Back in Istanbul the unveiling of Tekbir's latest collection is the conservative fashion event of the year.

Bearded Man
8 o'clock is the call to prayer. So people can pray until 8:30 and then they'll sit.

Male Organizer
We don't have space for 2000 people to pray here.

Mustafa Karaduman
Do you have an open space we can put carpet on?

Female Organizer
Maybe not everybody will pray.

Mustafa Karaduman
No, everybody can pray. We'll take care of this.

Tekbir's fashion show is a magnet for Istanbul's affluent and devout - and a make or break moment for Karaduman — to see if he can serve Allah and the bottom line.

Mustafa Karaduman
Dear guests, we are excited to present our new line, which we have worked on for a long time. I hope everyone has a good night.

Tekbir's sales increased by 15 percent in 2005 - this fashion show is an effort to continue that trend by introducing a more colorful collection that could still appeal to conservative clientele.

Tuğba Özay is the star of Tekbir's fashion show and one of Turkey's top models.

She adheres to Karaduman's dress code in the show, but not afterwards.

Tuğba Özay
I wish you more success.

Mustafa Karaduman
Thank you.

Tuğba Özay
My pleasure.

Related Links
Turkey's Tigers on PBS.org

CIA World Factbook: Turkey

Turkish Cultural Foundation

BBC World Service: Religions of the World: Islam

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