Argande walks the runway again

01 Sep 2010

Working at the Multifunctional Community Center in Batman for the past three years, mother of three Fatma, is one of the 145 southeastern women manufacturing apparel for Turkish fashion sector’s only social responsibility project, Argande.

New Horizons - Though she lives far from the glamour of the fashion world, the designs Fatma manufactured for Argande’s 2011 Spring – Summer collection were displayed on the runway during İstanbul Fashion Week on 27 August 2010.

Introduced in July 2009 and created in the scope of “Innovations for Women’s Empowerment in the GAP Region” project, Argande is voluntarily supported by one of Turkey’s biggest and most innovative retail companies MUDO. Under the design coordination of fashion designer Hatice Gökçe, Argande designs created by leading designers are manufactured by southeastern women who are the direct beneficiaries of proceeds from sales. Frequently referred to as the fashion world’s most meaningful brand, Argande came into being as a result of the “Innovations for Women’s Empowerment in the GAP Region” project, run by the GAP Regional Development Administration with technical support from UNDP and financing from the Swedish International Cooperation and Development Agency (SİDA). Designers like Alex Akimoğlu who have voluntarily agreed to draw designs and MUDO which is displaying the brand in 17 stores in 7 cities in Turkey, have significantly contributed to Argande’s popularity.

Expressing her excitement when her dream of meeting the designers came true, Fatma said her motivation to work increased because her craftsmanship would be used for Argande designs. Another southeastern woman who has been working for the project for a year said “I have been working for Argande for 12 months, and my family and the people around me value me more because I am now making money. Before that, no one used to love or respect me because I was a girl doomed to sit at home. Now everyone loves and respects me because I make as much money as a man. My family used to discriminate between boys and girls, and whatever I did was considered shameful or sinful. Now that I am making money, no one criticizes me and I can go anywhere anytime I want to. I am starting to feel liberated.”

Alex Akimoğlu explained that the will to work he witnessed beneath the sincerity and shyness of southeastern women when he visited the Multifunctional Community Centers in Gaziantep, had an important impact on his decision to design for the project. Akimoğlu who follows recent trends and ensures that the products are marketable noted that he receives positive feedback about his designs. Argande is an important project which was launched to provide employment opportunities for and broaden the horizons of southeastern women. I hope that the scope of such cooperations is expanded and that Argande becomes a well-known brand througout Turkey” concluded Akimoğlu.

In describing the story of Argande, an initiative under “Innovations of Women’s Empowerment in the GAP Region”, UNDP Project Manager Gönül Sulargil said that foundations for project were laid during the “9 fashion designers for 9 cities” initiative developed in the scope of “Socio-economic empowerment of Women in the GAP region”. Each designer was assigned to a different city and requested to create designs inspired by the regions motifs and fabrics. In search of an outlet where these products can be sold, the idea was shared with MUDO representatives. Sulargil said that MUDO approached the idea positively and wanted to see samples of the products. Under Hatice Gökçe’s coordination, eight leading designers in Turkey came up with a concept and hence the Argande brand was born.

Noting that the project significantly improved the lives of southeastern women, Sulargil added: “Some women who have never earned any money before, began to make money when they started to manufacture for Argande”. Women in need were specifically chosen to work at the ateliers and are now the sole income bearers in large families. Sulargil said that aside from being economically self-sufficient, providing livelihood for their families has undoubtedly changed the women’s stance in life.

“Innovations of Women’s Empowerment in the GAP Region” project aims to increase women’s participation in the labour force, re-brand South East Anatolia and create new opportunities for sales and marketing. In keeping with the Turkish Government’s GAP Action Plan announced in May 2008, the project is expected to contribute to Southeast Regional Competitiveness Agenda supported by UNDP. Efforts to sustain the project, which began in May 2008 and will end in March 2011, are continuing.

Please click here for more information about the project.
To view Argande's previous collections, please visit