The student-founded fashion label Bassigue will soon expand its presence in the American market with a boutique in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City five months after its launch in August 2016.
The fine clothing firm founded by Asli Acar (COL ’18) and Gamze Keklik, an undergraduate at the George Washington University, already sells clothing online and through major Turkish retailers.
Acar said that she and Keklik came up with the idea during the summer of 2015, after thinking about ways to make a meaningful contribution to their community and culture.
“It was a summer where we were actually questioning the meaning of our lives,” Acar said. “We realized we just wanted to produce something; we wanted to be beneficial to our community and society.”
Acar said the yearlong process leading up to the launch was full of arduous work, from conceiving a name for the brand to enlisting technological help for creating designs. The brand’s name, Bassigue, is an amalgamation of the words “basic” and “vogue” to reflect the brand’s objective of being simple and stylish.
Keklik said their unfamiliarity with technological tools for fashion design made them resort to outside help.
“We looked for someone who could help us draw the designs on the computer and knows IT better than us,” Keklik said. “I had a friend from high school who now studies in New York at School of Visual Arts, Mert. He helped us start this journey.”
Acar further attributed Bassigue’s success to her partnership with Keklik and how they complement each other.
“I’m always the one that’s flying a little bit above. Gamze will sometimes tell me, ‘This is impossible, come down, we are not that yet— it’s a balance,” Acar said. “She looks at the numbers and tells me what will work with our customers and what won’t work.”
Acar said they also started to involve themselves in the manufacturing, because they wanted to have direct input in the creation of their products.
“Everything we do is ours; we create the material, we select the cotton, the viscous, every little thing and then we mix it to make the fabric,” Acar said.
According to Acar, Bassigue’s commitment to creating its own material and directly sourcing all of its components distinguishes it from other brands.
“Our products are made from scratch in the Turkish factory. We don’t buy the material; we produce that too. We only buy the thread,” Acar said.
Keklik echoed the view that the quality of the products is of the utmost importance.
“Everyone can make designs obviously. We have seen other brands doing similar clothes, but the quality, and not using synthetic material, is probably the most distinctive factor about us,” Keklik said.
Keklik also noted, however, that high-quality products require higher prices in order to generate profit.
“What we are trying to do is make the finest basic wear, so our products are a high quality. This means we have to put our prices so high to make a profit, which can be problematic,” Keklik said.
According to Keklik, finding a large retailer helped promote brand awareness around its summer launch.
“A big part of our journey was looking for retailers where we could sell our products. In Turkey, the biggest department store, Beymen, was a big step for our launch, because nobody knew us,” Keklik said. “Getting there, apart from our website, was huge in order to get recognition from our Turkish customers.”
Acar said their next step is to continue enhancing Bassigue’s appeal and status. One of their strategies is a membership system that rewards loyal customers with exclusive deals.
“We are planning on making a society for Bassigue, so, when you become a member of Bassigue, you will be able to purchase society-only products,” Acar said. “This will enhance our exclusivity to ensure not everyone owns our products and that our customers feel special.”
Acar considered drive and passion to be the two most important components behind entrepreneurial success.
“If you have an idea or something that you are passionate about, maybe it’s cliché but never stop and never back down,” Acar said. “On the road you will have haters and people that will try and stop you and say, ‘You’re only 20 years old; what are you even trying to do.’ At that point if you even look back you’re done, if you even question yourself you’re done. So you need to believe ‘I can do it.’”
Gabriella Mas (COL ’18), a student who has purchased clothes from Bassigue, expressed her amazement at the high quality of the brand’s products.
“When I first saw her product, honestly, I was in shock because of how good the quality is and how amazing it was that she could execute her dreams and what she had envisioned in her head,” Mas said.
Mas summed up the brand as clever but simple, with designs that appeal to a broad audience.
“It’s unique in the way they have portrayed it on their products,” Mas said. “They try to capture with every collection what people are saying and feeling.”