Ebru Debbağ, now executive director of global sales and marketing for Soorty, began her three-decade career in denim as a management trainee at Orta Anadolu. Over her 27 years at the Turkish denim maker, Debbağ climbed the ranks to sales and marketing director. Under her leadership, the team there grew sales from 35 million meters to 60 million meters. While at Orta, she also helped promote the company’s social outreach platform, including through partnerships with UNICEF and the Ecological Research Society.
In 2018, Debbağ left her long-time home to serve as executive director of global sales and marketing at Soorty. In her current position, she is focusing on how to best align Soorty’s product, design and social values with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) “to transform the industry at scale globally.”
Outside of her day-to-day work, Debbağ spends much of her time promoting sustainability. In 2016, she founded Indigofriends “in pursuit of co-creating a dialogue for regenerative supply chain and consumption practices.” Debbağ is also on the board of Etkiyap, the first impact investment platform in Turkey, and is an active founding member of Permaturk, the first permaculture non-governmental organization set up to advocate sustainable living practices for all, she said. An Istanbul Technical University graduate, she has, in recent years, participated in Singularity University’s executive program and acquired Design with Nature Certification.
What is the biggest misconception that consumers have about sustainable denim?
The consumers mostly consider denim production to be simple. Most of the time, they relate sustainability solely with materials rather than the social and the environmental impact of the full process of both making and selling the jeans.
What can the denim industry do to ensure a positive post-pandemic rebound?
Rebounding needs to surface from where we are—the industry must take a deeper look into the dynamics of our current status and imagine and build a future we all will embrace.
Skinny jeans: Over or a new staple?
The look and feel of skinny jeans may change but they are here to stay.
How can denim retail improve?
Denim retail needs to evolve into an experience platform where consumers can both learn and have fun as they shop. It’s not even about the brand, but more the experience of the brand. Consumers are a part of the brand offer and brands will not be selling to the consumers but designing and serving with them.
How many pairs of jeans do you own?
I have a huge archive because I’ve kept inspirational pieces for the past 30 years. I must have over 125 pieces.
Which jeans do you wear the most, and why?
I love my secondhand selvedge Levi’s jeans. They are kind of home to me and represent what I like most about the industry: authenticity, personality, integrity, joy, unity and love.