Sanayi 313

Pinning down Sanayi 313’s co-founder and designer, Serena Uziyel, for an interview proved to be somewhat of a challenge. Not that the designer of the soaring Turkish accessories label isn’t willing to talk, she simply has a hard time finding time in her overbooked schedule. Rather than squeezing in five minutes for a rushed conversation over the phone, Serena sat down behind her laptop for an old-school back and forth email exchange, offering us a clear insight of what it means to be the designer of a skyrocketing luxury brand.  

by Chloé Bauwens

Sanayi 313 is more than a Turkish accessories label. It's an entire lifestyle store in Istanbul sprung from the mind of brothers Enis and Amir Karavil. It was interior architect Enis who came up with the idea of converting a car repair shop in the city's industrial estate to a concept store that offers everything from furniture to food and fashion. It was also Enis who persuaded Serena to become a part of the Sanayi 313 family. 'He dragged me into the project', Serena explains. 'Eventually, my passion for making shoes and bags emerged to the surface and we decided to go ahead and found our own high-end accessories label, Sanayi 313.' 


I firmly believe in classics rather than trends. Slippers will always stay as one of the key elements of our wardrobes.

It was quite challenging to schedule an interview with you, do you have such a thing as a 'typical' working day?
I travel a lot during summer. Therefore there's never a day identical to the one before. Generally speaking, I wake up early and tackle my emails. After a quick breakfast, rush hour starts. I usually spend one day in Istanbul at the Sanayi 313 office and throughout the week I travel to different cities. Florence, Milan, Paris and Mumbai are frequent stops on my itinerary due to meetings and design processes. While I sometimes have the feeling of literally living in my suitcase, these travels provide me with an arsenal of inspiration. I'm inspired by people around me and in particular by the items that I miss in my day to day life. A book that I read, a show that I'm watching or a small detail that I observed, might turn out to be a source of inspiration later on.
Talking about inspiration, for Sanayi 313 traditional Ottoman weaving particularly inspired you, can you tell us a bit more about this technique?
My designs at Sanayi 313 are strongly inspired by caftans from the Ottoman Empire. In Turkey, this tradition of weaving has unfortunately started to disappear. That's why I felt so strongly about preserving this craftsmanship and combining it with a modern twist. For our collections, we use elements of traditional techniques in exclusive artisanal workshops. I spend a lot of time with the artists and execute each technique and artwork with them. I firmly believe in classics rather than trends. Slippers will always stay as one of the key elements of our wardrobes. Comfort, function and aesthetic are the most important aspects of my design process. 


Could you describe your design process?
Hands are the most important instruments when designing. I prefer to start playing around with materials and techniques rather than focusing on drawings. I spend a lot of time with the artists and execute one by one each technique and artwork with them. There are several stages involved in making each embroidery. Each artwork is executed with rigorous precision. Since it takes 36 to 60 hours to weave each thread and complete one embellishment on a pair of slippers, it is almost impossible to repeat the same pattern or texture. Sometimes it can take up to three days to decorate a single clutch. A meticulous amount of detail and work goes into each piece.

When did you realise you wanted to be a designer?
I always loved to play with materials. Textures, colours and finding different ways to express myself excited me. Creating, to me, is the best escape from day to day life. It was during my studies at Parsons, New York, that I came to understand what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The intensity of the course, the things I learned... There I had the chance to meet different and inspiring people, and this helped me to figure things out. While I was studying at Parsons, I had several work experiences from Moschino to Donna Karan and Marie Claire, these work stints further helped me in understanding what I wanted to do with my career. All these different learning experiences contributed in shaping me into the designer I am today.

Sanayi 313's collection is currently limited to shoes and bags. Can we expect more in the future?
I am passionate about shoes and bags. I firmly believe that one should execute and master his/her knowledge in the best way possible. At Sanayi 313, we aim to be one of the world's classic brands.