"Success is to be able to continue"
Numan Ataker, who introduced his Ezidi-themed collection at New York Fashion Week: "If my grandchildren can continue this company, it is a success."
When he was four, his father brought Numan Ataker from Şırnak to Istanbul. At the age of 8, he starts to spend his school time in an atelier. He sets up a textile workshop with his two brothers at the age of 14. In the 90s he started trading. He opened an office in New York with his sister in the USA and started production of John Paul Ataker four years ago by evaluating his past knowledge of production, fabric, and sewing. Numan Ataker is the name behind the designs. It starts with a presentation with Kelly Osbourne in 2015, and then on her fashion show at New York Fashion Week, he chooses to represent Assyrians because his ethnicity comes from Assyrians. Finally, he attracts a lot of attention with its Ezidi-themed collection during the fashion week in New York.
Your brand name is John Paul Ataker.
John and Paul are the baptismal names of my father and grandfather. I have two daughters and a son. My son's name is John Paul. My goal is to have my daughter take over after she finishes her education path successfully. She is interested in the fashion industry. My wife is also a fashion design graduate, she is my strictest critic.
How would you describe your style?
Our style isn’t trinketed, not flashy; simple but feminine, assertive. We prefer self-confident, modern women.
You use ethnic items. Is fashion a tool to promote Anatolian culture?
It is more correct to introduce a place from our culture than a different theme. My future fashion shows will continue like this. There is so much cultural richness here that even I am developing while researching. For the 2018 spring-summer collection in September, I'm now working on the Black Sea, Trabzon theme. I want a piece from Kazım Koyuncu to be accompanied by a fiddle. Trabzon twist bracelets were embroidered with straw. It is a mostly white and gold collection with gold details reminiscent of straw.
How did the Yazidi theme develop?
We did research, pictures came from museums. Yazidi women wear a dominant collar, the chest is slightly open so that they can breastfeed their children comfortably. Its arms are more volatile. We tattooed the symbols they used, on the models. They liked it very much, they left without erasing it. We got very positive comments. We aimed to tell people who came there that this culture exists. Donald Trump's ex-wife Marla Maples also hugged me saying she was very touched.
What do you attribute that many well-known names abroad prefer you?
Our clothes are comfortable and mostly organic fabrics. They also prefer it because they see the difference. We're dressing around 42 artists like Nicky Hilton, Chrissy Teigen, Olivia Culpo, Kelly Underwood. I would like Angelina Jolie to wear a casual dress from this Yazidi collection.
You opened a store in Nişantaşı.
It's been two months. There are night collections, stylish pants, blouses, skirts. We sell these designs everywhere to Panama, Venezuela, or Kuwait. One hundred percent cotton jackets/vests that can be worn over trousers are sold very well. Arabs indeed like it very flashy, but Turks like trinket-bead clothes more.
Which direction do you think fashion will take?
I think fashion will go naturally. I think most of the big brands will be on the brink of bankruptcy 15 years later. Because anything that is produced a lot is doomed to disappear. I believe that the boutique system will multiply if the newly trained designers put in their efforts. It will be more advantageous for young people after 15-20 years. Customized designs will stand out.
"Fashion will become natural"
What do you attribute your success to?
I came to these days with my effort. I remember that I worked for three days without any sleep on the machine. Sometimes Machinery friends in the atelier complain that it is very difficult to sew some fabrics, I usually respond saying brother, I sew too. Only after the age of 22, I started taking vacation days on Sundays. I will continue with ethnic motifs. I will always use more natural fabrics, I will reduce polyester as much as possible. But success is to continue. If my grandchildren can continue this company after 30 years, that is a success.
Donald Trump liked his design
Tiffany Trump, the daughter of US President Donald Trump, is one of your customers.
She is a modest young girl. We were dressing her before his father was a candidate. She was a girl who came by train in the rain and bought clothes. Of course, her bodyguards increased after her father became president. She said about my blue floral dress. “This one was made for me,” she said, and last month we sent four outfits. His father liked the red jacket and skirt she wore on the live broadcast during the election campaign, he told her to buy again from John Paul Ataker.