Interview With Designer Asli Filinta

by Rachelle Hruska · April 18, 2008

    Asli Filinta [Asli Filinta surrounded by her creations at Dernier Cri]

    Before I knew Asli, I had already fallen in love with her cool hats. Browing Dernier Cri in Meatpacking one Sunday afternoon, I knew I had to have one of the eccentric creations for my collection. I quickly discovered that the designer behind them, was just as cool.  As a child, Asli Filinta always knew that she'd be in New York City someday. That doesn't keep her from staying true to her Turkish roots. From inspiration in her designs, to the tags she uses to christen them, Asli is a sweet soul from Istanbul that is representing her country well, bringing one of a kind treasures to our stylish cobblestoned streets. We expect to see a lot more of Asli in the future.

    What did you do before starting your company? How did you get into design? When I was studying economics in Bilkent University in Ankara (the capital of Turkey), I was making jewelery for myself and for my friends. When I graduated, I started working for the leading fashion company, Vakko and then I worked as a design assistant for the young fashion company Tuvanam, in Istanbul. Then I got the chance to move to NY to attend Parsons. I was still making hats, tshirts, scarfs and dresses for myself. Now, I get the chance to sell in 9 boutiques in the US. Mostly in NY, LA and Seattle.

    Where are you from, and what was your childhood like? I am from Turkey and I grew up in the southern city; Adana. I love my hometown, but I knew that I was going to live in Istanbul and then New York when I was 16. I had a very happy childhood, I couldn't have asked for a nicer one from my parents. The amazing thing about them is they are still in love.

    asli’s t’s [Asli's T's]

    Can you tell us more about your line, where do you get your inspiration from and what are you looking forward to? I design women's accessory and clothing and I believe the oriental look of Istanbul allows each design to carry a proprietary exoticness within the collection. I also have the belief within the collection is anti-conformity and the major influence for my designs came out of the DIY culture of the arts. I have certain rules for my job. First Rule is to have fun and the other is not the follow up on the trends, forecasted colors or any other designers.

    What is the best part about your job? Getting to design for myself.

    How would you describe your own personal style? Casual and playful, somewhere between strong and relaxed.

    Was it hard moving to New York? What are some of your favorite things about living here? No, actually it was even easier than moving to anywhere else. When you know that something is going to happen, you don't get to see its crucial sides. Living in New York, is what I always wanted and it happened. So now I am trying to enjoy as much as I can. Seeing bands performing in Brooklyn is my favorite.

    You are very proud of your home land, can you explain a little bit more about how your relationship to Turkey has aided you in your creations? I get inspiration from everything: a movie, a song, an article, an illustration. And it is the entire essence of Turkey that has aided me. ? used to see laces as a table or TV cover in my grandmother house, when I was a kid, now I have taken those laces and used them as part of my label attached to my pieces. People are used to seeing “New York” as a brand, even in Turkey, so I was thinking that I should use Istanbul as my brand name. The complete name of the brand is “ASLIFILINTA ISTANBUL". I really enjoy seeing the smile on people’s face when they hear that I am from Istanbul, and I have never heard anyone who had the chance to visit and not fall in love with the place. I feel lucky to be from such a beautiful place.

    Where are you working from now? Where can we go to look at your designs? My home is also my studio, and its in Brooklyn. You can allways check my website, Whatever I design is on display in my favorite Boutique in meat packing district, Dernier Cri. ShopPulp, my favorite online shop, also carries me.

    asli filinta

    Some of my favorite items of yours are your eccentric hats that you have designed. How do you come up with the ideas for your pieces? ? dream about them sometimes, I like the vintage feelings, and I search around a lot................Once I was listening to Devendra Banhart, “Heard Somebody Say” and designed a hat with a soldier on the front, holding a weapon. And when you buy the hat, it comes with four different type of weapons, so you get to switch the gun with a knife, or if you feel like a grenade day, there you go. I heard somebody say that the war ended today, but everyone knows it's goin' still..

    Who has been a role model to you? My Father.

    Where do you see yourself in five years? Thats the question of an answer I don’t have. I always believe whatever route I follow takes me to the same result of being happy, thats why I act extreamly spontaneous, I guess.

    What is your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon in New York? I am working on Sundays. My Tuesdays are my Sundays, so my favorite Tuesdays are; waking up early because I really enjoy the morning sun, NY Times, magazines and books, riding my bike, going to galleries, exploring ideas from the flea markets, and at the end of the night seeing a band in Brooklyn.