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The Consultants: Gülfem Santo Erkaya

The Consultants is Rivet’s regular check-in with denim industry business and creative consultants to get their take on topics ranging from the status of sustainability to future trends. In this Q&A, Istanbul-based denim consultant and founder of Dibs on Blue Gülfem Santo Erkaya discusses why precise storytelling and fresh ideas are connected to denim’s longevity.

Name: Gülfem Şanto Erkaya

Location: Istanbul

What was your first gig in the denim industry?
My first experience in the denim industry was at Orta Anadolu as an account manager for the Italian market. I’ve spent six months in the mill for the orientation program, worked a little in Istanbul, and then transferred to Treviso, Italy. After four years in sales, I was promoted as the worldwide marketing team leader of Orta Anadolu.

Describe your design point of view.
I would like to define my design point of view as out-of-the-box. We all love blue, but my goal is to bring more color and joy to our lives. I usually utilize geometric shapes with a minimal aesthetic. I support a holistic vision that connects fundamental values and higher purposes. My focus is mostly on the content, where I can play with words or shapes to make things less complicated. I also believe in simple and precise storytelling through cause and effect relationships.

What is the most common challenge that denim brands encounter in their design?
I think the most common challenge of denim brands might be similarity—although a single denim fabric can adopt various forms. Trends, either sustainable or not, are embraced collectively by the entire industry. I believe that we need to shift experiences by exploring circular guidelines and out-of-the-box solutions.

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What makes you optimistic about the denim industry?
I always feel optimistic about the denim industry because we are connected as like-minded people. I’m feeling proud of how our industry embraces sustainability towards a better future, even though we kind of consumed the idea quite rapidly. I hope we can dedicate ourselves to construct a transparent flow of information as the next step.

In this Q&A, Istanbul-based denim consultant and founder of Dibs on Blue Gülfem Şanto Erkaya discusses why precise storytelling and fresh ideas is to denim’s longevity
Gülfem Şanto Erkaya Courtesy

Name a denim trend you hope to never see again.
Coating. I think heavy, shiny coatings conceal the true beauty of denim.

Do you have a favorite industry event to attend?
I have two favorites. Kingpins is my favorite event to network or catch up with colleagues and explore innovations, whereas Munich Fabric Start is a great platform to exchange ideas and get a comprehensive understanding of the collections.

What advice would you give to someone at the beginning of their denim career?
I would advise them to learn all the attributes of [jeans] because if you learn it by heart, communication will be easier and more productive.

What is your favorite jean to wear, and why?
It’s my vintage Levi’s jeans that I bought from a Lot, Stock, and Barrel collaboration. They are timeless.

What are you most proud of in your career?
Starting my own marketing consultancy business, Dibs on Blue.

What’s your vision for denim in 2025?
Traceable, transparent and circular are the first three things that came to my mind. As an industry, we are capable of achieving these as we all strive for a better future. However, I would also like to remind the importance of equality between races and genders.