ALDIQUE: An Interview with founder Aldiar Tuyakbay
1. Tell us a bit more about what sparked the idea to start your brand? Have you always been interested in fashion?
I can’t say that I was always interested in fashion, but I was always interested in clothes. Fashion is just what is popular now, you can only follow it or be interested in it. I don’t think you can love fashion because today you love one thing and tomorrow you stop loving it because it is not the trend anymore. You can love clothes, and that I do. I was always interested in what people wore in movies and music videos. I always saw it as a way to express yourself, subcultures are defined by their style of clothing, it really represents you.
The idea behind my brand was that clothes stopped representing the individual. The big logos and brand name t-shirts became fashionable, but they do not represent the wearer, they make the person wearing them represent them. It wasn’t personal therefore it couldn’t be timeless. I wanted to make something more tasteful and essential. My primary focus is on quality and something I call “tasteful logoism”, people still want logos and branding, so why not make it tasteful and implement it in the pieces themselves rather than just being lazy and only changing the exterior. I would categorise my brand as “Elevated Basics”.
2. If you could collaborate with any brand, which would it be?
Hard question, especially now when there are so many brands and companies open to collaborating with designers.
I would definitely like to collaborate with a large sportswear brand like Nike or Adidas someday, but my dream brand to collaborate with would be Hermès. I think an Aldique redesigned Kelly bag would be amazing.
3. You mention architecture is a big inspiration for you and your creative process. Could you talk a bit more about what fashion and architecture have to offer to each other?
In my eyes fashion, architecture, and product design are all the same at the end of the day, it is all design of form & function. I study architecture at university, and I got really into the works and ideologies of Deutscher Werkbund and Bauhaus. The two ideologies believed that art should meet the needs of society and that there should be no distinction between form and function. They wanted to remove the distinction between fine art and applied art, they were striving to create a “total work of art” out of all arts. In garments the ‘exterior’ is the piece of clothing, it is constructed and measured out, and the ‘interior’ is the graphics and other decorative aspects. Bauhaus style was marked by the absence of ornamentation and harmony between function and design.
I wanted to apply their principles closer to my design process. I try to find a medium between beauty and utility, my pieces should be as aesthetically pleasing as they are useful. I also wanted to implement the international style of Bauhaus quite literally, to design my clothes to be able to look natural anywhere in the world. Also, I promised myself to never undermine the quality and the artistic integrity to sell out or save money, a belief that is missing from fast fashion. Also, I am really inspired by other designers who studied architecture like Raf Simons, Tom Ford, and Virgil Abloh. I see some principles that I follow in their approach to design too.
MODELS' IG: @altjj_ & @harunajebak
4. Any particular individual in the fashion industry that you look up to?
I really look up to Ralph Lauren both as a designer and as a businessman. The brand that he has built ranges from mid-range to luxury goods and is sold all over the world. He is a great businessman, but what I look up to the most is how he is selling an image, a lifestyle. His corporation in my eyes is the embodiment of the American Dream.
5. Is there any city in particular that you think has inspired your brand more than others and why?
Aldique as a brand is inspired by life in big cities. Cities like New York, Tokyo, Moscow, Paris, Berlin &, etc. But of course, it is mostly inspired by London, and more specifically by High Streets. Nowadays people all around the world dress similarly because of the internet and social media, we all have similar sources of inspiration, “Gucci here, Gucci there”, I do not see it as a bad thing.
But there is still a certain way people dress in large metropolitan areas and there are still distinctions in how people dress in different areas of said cities. Every big city has a Financial District, a Soho-type area, and something that is their version of a High Street. A High Street is usually the main street in a town with most shops, banks, cafes and other businesses. Living fairly close to one allowed me to notice the laid-back metropolitan style of people living there. I am inspired by that style and I probably dress like that too now. If I had to categorise my brand, I would like to call it High Street Chic.
6. Aldique seems to be a gender-fluid brand, one which blends unisex style with classic basics with a twist. Did you want your brand to be unisex from the start, and if so, why is that important to you?
The question is not why it is important for my brand to be gender-fluid, the question is why people still care about genders in fashion, especially in ready-to-wear. The clothes I make at least now are not gendered exclusive, anyone can wear a shirt or a t-shirt if it fits them right. In my opinion, a bigger distinction should be made between sizes and cuts. Every individual has a preferred fit, skinny or baggy jeans, oversized or fitted shirts &, etc. Brands should cater to that. I think if it fits you right, you should wear it.
Also, I never understood why if something is labeled unisex, it is rarely worn by men, I read somewhere that Keith Richards always steals clothes from his wife’s closet to wear, more people should do that. Gender lines should only maybe apply to haute couture, it is irrelevant in ready-to-wear, girls don’t want “pink & shrink” clothes anymore and guys want more pop in their wardrobe, I think everyone should wear whatever they want.
7. Latest fashion piece you have purchased and love?
I recently bought a Destroyed Denim Jacket by Maison Margiela. It’s a normal-looking blue denim jacket with distressed chest pockets but what I love about it is that you feel the thought behind its design and structure whilst wearing it, that’s why Margiela is the best. I think most contemporary designers are influenced by him in some way or another, in my eyes he is the godfather of modern fashion. I also love the jacket because I love denim, it has to be my favourite fabric, I feel the most comfortable in it.
8. In my eyes, Aldique is inspired by silhouettes seen at Saint Laurent or Celine. Are there any designers in particular that you take inspiration from?
Saint Laurent and Celine inspiration are evident in my designs, both brands Hedi Slimane designed for at some point. A lot of people criticise him for turning Céline into Celine and basically making it his Saint Laurent part 2, but I personally love his slim and tapered silhouettes because of how simple and wearable his stuff is. Actually, his stint at Christian Dior is the reason why so many straight men are into fashion now. I cannot hate on him.
9. What tips would you give young entrepreneurs wanting to start their own brand today?
There were many things about this industry that I did not understand when I started out, like that the design process is a relatively small part of it, manufacturing and marketing are the most important and time-consuming aspects of the business. You could have the best product out there, but if no one hears about it, it wouldn’t get anywhere. Also, it is very important to run your own website, data collection is king. The fewer middlemen, the better.
10. What are the plans for the future of the brand? Would you consider going into accessories?
I have a lot of future plans for my brand, I am still at a very early stage with it. I still need to design and release a full collection and I still need to enter major retailers. But my plans for the near future are to market and sell my current collection. I am also planning a couple of collaborations soon and possibly a pop-up store. Accessories are something I am really interested in too, I will probably go into eyewear soon. I am really looking forwards to the future, especially with the pandemic coming to an end, hopefully.
11. Now for some more personal questions - Your favourite movie and favourite restaurant to dine at?
My all-time favourite movie is Scarface with Al Pacino, I have probably watched it over 50 times. My favourite cuisine has to be Georgian but there aren’t many Georgian restaurants around London, so my favourite restaurant is a sushi place called Defune next to Baker Street.