The Women In Denim is Rivet’s check-in with females working in the global denim sector. The weekly column, in partnership with The Women In Denim industry group, shines a spotlight on today’s and tomorrow’s leaders. In this Q&A, Istanbul-based executive director of global sales and marketing Aydan Tüzün discusses how her children and younger colleagues inspire her to create a better and more fair future.
Aydan Tüzün, Naveena Denim Mills executive director of global sales and marketing
When and where did you begin your career in denim?
I started in January of 1998 at Orta, where I worked with great enthusiasm and passion for 19 years.
What is the most rewarding part of your current job?
I have been working at Naveena for three years with the same enthusiasm and passion. Naveena is one of Pakistan’s pioneering and prestigious denim mills, however, it was not very well known in Europe compared to the U.S., as there is no garment production. Our initial goal was to build a team to increase our global awareness and to develop business in new markets.
Despite Naveena’s strengths and my years of experience in the industry, making a fresh start has been a difficult challenge on a personal level. The most rewarding part is that I work with young and creative bosses. While I share my knowledge and experiences with them, I also learn from them. This keeps my amateur spirit and excitement alive every day.
Some people describe denim as a boys’ club. Do you agree or disagree?
We could say the same thing for the whole business world. But I think this is not true for our industry. In the fashion industry, in particular in the western countries but now also in the east, women take important roles. There may be fewer women in terms of quantity, but their impact is at least as strong as men—if not more.
In denim, what qualities do you think women bring to the table?
Well, we could ask the same question for men. I genuinely believe that the denim community is full of people with passion. That is what makes this community stand out. Gender is not relevant as long as you have passion, hard work and collaboration.
Have you had a mentor in your career?
I feel very fortunate to have met many amazing people throughout my whole career. I had and have many mentors and I very much hope that I am also serving as a mentor now in particular to the younger generation. I have learned very early in my career the importance of teamwork and collaboration. I see everyone around me as a mentor who can teach me something new or show me a different perspective.
What can women do to help other women in the denim industry?
Not only in our industry, but from Hollywood to police forces, there has been a lot of discussion around gender equality. The #MeToo movement made more impact than people imagined. I think, we should all follow this path—men and women—and use the right tools to make gender equality a reality. At Naveena, we are managing this in the framework of our sustainability strategy. We should not forget that this is a global fight and we should empower each other on a larger scale.
What advice would you give to a woman starting a career in the denim industry?
There is a Chinese proverb that says “women carry half of the sky.” I would advise to my young women colleagues to trust in themselves, their power, what they can achieve and also to be always true to themselves.
Who is your denim style icon, and why?
Definitely, the women in the film “Thelma & Louise.” They showcased denim in a very particular way as a symbol of freedom in their own journey of freedom.
What should be the denim industry’s top priority now?
The industry’s top priority should be agility. With agility comes adaptation and resilience. Denim has always changed with the times. Sometimes it adapted itself to new realities, other times it was a frontrunner and symbol of change. I think our industry will again be the first to read the zeitgeist correctly.
What makes you most optimistic?
Even if it hard to believe in these days of uncertainty, I am very optimistic about the future, mostly because I really believe in the new generations to come. We all read and see a lot of reports about the next generations, but what I observe as a mom of two teenagers is that the new generations will definitely surpass our expectations in terms of environmental conscience, ethics and creating a more human economy. They haven’t witnessed world wars as past generations but they will have different issues to fight for. The fact that the symbol of the fight against climate change is a young activist is no surprise.