Asu Aksu

University / School:
istanbul moda academy
Graduation Year:
Production Location:
Contact Designer

Collection – Pattern Recognition

The capsule collection designed for International Woolmark Prize is inspired by ancient rituals, traditions, crafts and how they function as databases, warnings, faqs, advice columns and tutors. Such social constructs do not exist in a vacuum and need the presence of both human societies and their settlements to emerge. In this context we chose İstanbul and studied this city of cities not just as a human settlement, but also as metadata.


The foundation is being laid down on how to be comfortable in the cityscape. Since more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, it is vital and timely, too. Pioneered by activewear brands, a new breed of garments is born. Fluidity is at work here, blending über-functionality with an urban and sophisticated look. We, too, embrace these principles and take our cues from the city.


On the face of it, rituals are a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order, a series of actions or type of behaviour regularly and invariably followed by people to various purposes. Yet, underneath the surface lies a bundle of data gathered throughout the ages and stored within rituals to be passed on to future generations. The nature of such intelligence might be instructive, cautionary or narrative. The medium also varies... Evil eye beads, molten lead ceremonies, amulets, talismans and tribal tattoos are some of the mediums utilized in Anatolian culture. These ancient traditions are not endemic to Anatolia in nature, the urge to create metadata and pass it on to later generations can be seen all over the world. Geography also influences the types of information and the mediums adopted by peoples. Due to its cosmopolitan aspect, İstanbul is a treasure trove of such cultural nodes and the catalyst of this collection.


The best place to hide something is in plain sight. Tribal tattoos hide the information in the form of encrypted messages, legible only for the initiated or the kin. From Maoris of New Zealand to Kurds of Middle East, tribal tattoos indicate social status and rank; tell stories of the past and mystical, mythological beliefs of certain tribes; serve as tribal identifiers, protection charms against evil forces, amulets for good health or to cure illnesses and beauty, sexuality and fertility enhancing talismans.


Museums and gift shops are oversaturated with Anatolian rugs, tapestries, amulets, talismans, drawings and crockery. So instead of offering replicas, this collection deconstructs the patterns, shapes, silhouettes and techniques found in İstanbul’s cultural codes and re-engineers them in contemporary contexts. Motifs can be observed on many crafted artifacts and those motifs can be comprised of simple or complex patterns, symbols, numerals, letters and animate or inanimate objects. Their meanings are not coincidental, but intentionally ascribed. The collection takes this traditional coil of meanings and superposes it with its modern counterpart, a motherboard.


Talismanic shirts, worn by Ottoman sultans, were covered with text in a variety of scripts and symbols to make the fighter invisible in battle, to protect from evil, to maintain good health and aid fertility. The collection’s rendition takes this classical form and unites it with an urban talisman: Aerial photos of İstanbul, segmented and rearranged as a totemic string of data, a prayer to the patron saint of urban communities, the cloud.


Wool is a living material and can be harvested gently without harming anything. It was presumably here years before us humans. One nurtures an animal and it offers one the gift of wool, it’s such a blissful exchange. It can even be used raw in addition to knitted, woven or felted, as thin as a super fine t-shirt or as thick as a felt coat… Made for all-weather, all-terrain use… We find that absolutely fascinating and the currently available technology offers us unlimited and unprecedented alternatives. The experts keep warning us about serious shortages of natural resources in the near future, so we will have to collectively embrace the true potential of natural fibers. We just need to go back to the roots, look harder at this primordial material used by our ancestors since time immemorial. We are now capable of improving it and this can only be accomplished through an artistic, design oriented vision. It is time for items of clothing looking after us, rather than us looking after them.

Co-designer & prints: Denja Kaufmann
Photos: Bedia Günaydın
Model: Elishka Ku
Make up: Veronika Helvacıoğlu
Video: Tuğba Azcan
Video edit: Mehmet Abanoz
Music: Riad J-G Hajjar, Sun and Moon

Nominated for International Woolmark Prize / European Region / Turkey / Womenswear, 2015

Fashion Films

Hailing from İstanbul, the brand Asu Aksu is practical, uncomplicated and natty at once. Minimal designs, constructed with superb materials, present a rich and layered narrative. At first glance there's the woman: A novel, unique and unpretentious woman, comfortable both in her clothes and in her own skin. On a more subtle level, there is a brand concerned about affordability and sustainability. Collections are comprised of items meticulously produced in İstanbul (Turkey), by local craftsmen with cotton, wool and natural fibre based fabrics. Every piece adds its little detail to a growing narrative, giving voice to ecological concerns and a longing for a purer, more enjoyable life. Following her graduation from İstanbul University School of Business, Asu Aksu worked at various posts in advertising, PR, TV and entertainment. After a while, she reached the drastic decision of leaving her promising career behind and restarted training at İstanbul Fashion Academy. Graduating from İstanbul Fashion Academy in 2008, Asu Aksu in 2011 started her own label joined various projects, festivals and fashion shows, including Mercedes Benz Fashion Week İstanbul. She has been attending international fashion fairs such as Paris sur Mode, Who's Next Paris and Gallery Copenhagen regularly. She is also one of the 10 designers selected for the project "Fashion Incube", a collaboration between Center for Fashion Enterprise in London and İstanbul development agency via İstanbul Moda Academy.