Founder of Turkish-Balinese fashion brand on sustainability, culture and more

We’ve seen countless niche brands come to life recently and Bali Sultans, a Turkish-Balinese sustainable fashion and lifestyle brand is now on the list. The fashion industry will invariably make room for phenomenal designers, no matter what decade we’re in, but have you ever heard of a combination of this sort? 

Munevver Tugce Secer hadn’t, and decided to fill in the gap in the market. With sustainability at the forefront of everything we do, talk about and think, and culture being valued more than ever, Munevver and her tight-knit team of four began their Bali Sultans journey and made it what it is today. They let us in on how everything fell into place, from manufacturing to an eco-friendly way of co-existing and creating. 

In the Ottoman Empire, a king or a queen would’ve been referred to as a Sultan which equals strength, power and leadership. “Female Sultans were known for their power on the empire,” Munevver tells us, “I found many similarities in Balinese culture and it’s very exotic. I wanted to mix it with Turkish oriental culture to create something that sounds like the Island Goddess.” She further adds, “Turkey-Anatolia lands were home to many historical civilizations. Hittite to Greeks to Romans to Byzantine to Ottoman. Our lands contain many cultures together.  Today, it is possible to find these historical culture’s effect in textile and architecture all around Turkey. As a person coming from a richly unique culture all these kinds of traditional motifs which we still use in our daily life inspire me a lot. I try to mix them with my own designs. I also try to stick to their old manufacturing techniques.” 

Her exploration of different cultures came into abundance when she began her career as a flight attendant, and after 8 years, Munevver decided it was time to say farewell to the cabin crew life and welcome her beguiling new brand. In 2017, Munevver moved to Bali as a volunteer and hasn’t left since (like many Balinese business owners do) and found the much-needed courage to start her venture. “When I came to Bali for volunteering, I was so bored with my job and I was always looking for something different. Bali inspired me and gave me the courage to start my own brand.” When speaking of other influences, Munevver credits nature, “I love nature. That’s my biggest inspiration. Everything in nature is simple and perfect. I try to create designs that can suit nature’s simplicity.” She also speaks of the creator of Yargıcı, Emir Yargıcı as inspiration, adding “Emir Yargıcı and his team had a lot of effect on me. I’ve met them during one of my flights before I moved to Bali.” 

Inevitably, we talk sustainability because as aforementioned, we’re at a time where we live and breathe it (literally), and also, it’s a part of the brand’s identity. “Climate change and waste management are the biggest problems in the world. As Bali Sultans we create products that use sustainable materials that are friendly to the environment and we ensure that the people we work with are treated fairly. Today, most of the brands started to change their visions to produce eco-friendly and sustainable products. More people are aware of the situation. Seeing the world is changing slowly and be part of this action makes me really happy.”

Her emphatic reaction to our questions remains, as we discuss her favourite piece from the collection. “Towels are my babies. They have a special place in my heart. I put so much effort into finding the right people, the best materials and to get eco-tex certificates. They took me where I am at the moment. My shirts are my favourites. In Bali, I became a pretty lazy person also we live quite minimal here. I created the best white shirt that can be used in many places. To the beach, parties, dinner anywhere! Especially as it saves my life while driving around under 40 degrees. It protects my skin while cooling my body. It’s a must-have piece in anyone’s wardrobe.”

With so much going on already, we wondered how much more Munevver could do? “My goal is to open an art centre in Bali. It’s gonna be a place where people can come, exhibit their art pieces, create any kind of art/music while enjoying their food&drinks. There are already similar ones here but mine will be one never done before. I could give more info but I’m afraid my idea would be stolen hehe. Other than that I’m really happy with my life here and in ten years I hope none of them won’t be changed.”

Photography by Lisa Kolster 

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